The sidewalk repair and streetscape improvement project along Main Street in Historic Downtown Bethlehem is getting under way today.
The western sidewalk along Main at W. Market Street will be closed for the next week to allow for the construction work.
Pedestrians will be given directions on how to safely negotiate the area and temporary access will be provided to businesses – such as Ostara and Thai Thai II – that occupy storefronts on that side of the street in that area, according to Mike Alkhal, the city’s director of Public Works.
During construction, vehicular traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction – as opposed to the normal pattern of one southbound and two northbound lanes.
This is the beginning of Phase I of a planned six-phase, $3.2 million project to rebuild the sidewalk and roadway, while improving the look of Main Street in the historic downtown.
The project is being launced by downtown office building owner Liberty Property Trust, which has provided $300,000 for the project to begin. The hope is to finance the project primarily through contributions made by downtown stakeholders.
Phase I includes the area around Main and W. Market streets and itself, has been divided into five phases of work.
The first three of those five phases is expected to take about seven days each, Alkhal wrote in an e-mail to the Downtown Bethlehem Association.
After western sidewalk work is completed, construction will shift to the northeastern side of the Main and W. Market Street intersection. Business such as The Attic, and its neighbors will be affected. In the third week, work will shift to the southeastern side of the intersection, affecting businesses such as Johnny’s Bagels and its neighbors.
In each of those phases, work will include tree removal, excavation and removal of the existing sidewalks to a depth of about 12 inches. Then, electrical conduit, tree grate foundations, trash receptacle foundations and bollard foundations will be installed.
Once the subsurface construction is complete, new brick and bluestone sidewalks will be installed as well as new trees, tree grates, trash receptacles, bollards and benches.
Improvements to the roadway – including the installation of an inlaid granite star in the center of the intersection – will likely start after Musikfest ends, Alkhal said.
Alkhal and Joseph Kelly, the city’s director of Community and Economic Development, plan to be at the next DBA meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday to further discuss details of the project.