Work begun to transform Water Street

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Construction crews will transform Cape Girardeau's Water Street into a scenic one-way road for tourists visiting the colorful floodwall mural, but the initial construction work involves water lines, not aesthetics.

Workers with Alliance Water Resources, the company that operates the city's water system, are tearing up the pavement and installing two water lines: a 12-inch line to boost water pressure downtown and a 20-inch pipe.

The latter is designed to transport raw well water to the water plant when the water system is expanded sometime in the future, city officials said.

Rather than tear up the pavement later, city officials decided to install the 20-inch pipe now.

The water-line work will cost about $50,000, officials said. The work began a week ago at the Broadway intersection and will continue south to Independence Street. All of the water-line work should be completed within three weeks, said Kevin Priester, manager of the water system.

Other contractors will handle the rest of the improvements, which involve a wider, decorative sidewalk with brick pavers and reading boards that explain the historical scenes depicted in each of the panels of the floodwall mural that runs parallel to Water Street.

The creation of the mural and related Water Street improvements, excluding the water-line work, are costing some $350,000, said Tim Blattner, president of the River Heritage Mural Association. A federal grant and private donations are covering more than $300,000 of the cost, he said. The city is footing the bill for the rest of the expense.

The mural itself, created by Chicago artist Thomas Melvin, was completed late last year. But efforts to install interpretative signs and make other improvements on Water Street were delayed while city and civic leaders debated downtown traffic changes.

City officials said the Water Street project will be completed before July 4.

Blattner said 25 laminated signs will be installed on posts bordering the new decorative sidewalk. The signs should be ready to install by mid-June, he said.

The city has hired Lappe Cement Finishing in Perryville, Mo., to break up the existing narrow sidewalk on the east side of Water Street and construct the concrete parts of the new sidewalk.

The new sidewalk will be 6 feet wide with concrete on either side of the pavers. The pavers will cover about 4 1/2 feet of the width with the concrete covering the rest of the width, said public works director Tim Gramling.

The city plans to hire a separate contractor to install the pavers.

Water Street, bordering the new sidewalk, then will be repaved with asphalt and striped for angled parking, he said.

Gramling said the city has bought 80 metal posts and enough chain to extend the 1,030-foot length of the floodwall mural. The posts and chain, which cost about $25,000, are designed to keep people from straying off the sidewalk and getting too close to the railroad tracks that run in front of the floodwall.

When completed this summer, Water Street will become a one-way, southbound street.

335-6611, extension 123

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