The way things are going, North Platte just might have its old-and-improved downtown Canteen District gift-wrapped and delivered in time for Christmas.
Paulsen Inc. crews have laid new concrete parking strips on two blocks of North Dewey Street and are poised to do likewise on one block of East Fifth Street, project manager Jed Paulsen said Friday.
At their current pace, he said, the last three blocks of the six-block, $2.81 million project might be open by the end of September — two months ahead of their contract deadline.
“We try to have an internal schedule (to finish) that’s faster than that” contract date, Paulsen said. “We’re on a good pace.”
As he spoke, his workers were laying down sand in between the parking strips between Fourth and Sixth streets. That comes before pouring the 6-inch concrete base atop which Dewey’s 1916 paving bricks will be reset.
Both blocks should be ready for their bricks “by Monday for sure,” Paulsen said, though resetting won’t start until work on East Fifth between Dewey and Jeffers is closer to the same point.
“We want to get as much aggregate covered as possible (with concrete) in case it rains,” he said.
“Luckily, North Platte’s been pretty good these past couple of weeks,” referring to the drier conditions this summer than last.
All of the updated water and storm sewer lines have been installed below Dewey and East Fifth, Paulsen said.
Midlands Contracting Inc. of Kearney handled that part of the project on those blocks and on three blocks of East Sixth rebuilt from late February to mid-June.
Work on the project’s second half started shortly before East Sixth reopened between Jeffers and Chestnut streets.
Lessons learned on those first three blocks are helping the second half go faster, Paulsen said.
Even so, he added, “there’s just so much more with this part” because of the “street and above” work to follow on the heels of the “street and below” street reconstruction.
The brick strips on Dewey and East Fifth will be narrower than on East Sixth in light of the planned streetscaping features, Paulsen said.
Sidewalks right next to the adjoining businesses will be rebuilt near project’s end, just as they were on East Sixth, he said.
Colored concrete remains to be poured between the sidewalks and the parking strips as part of the North Platte Downtown Association’s concept, developed with help from Lincoln’s Ochsner Hare & Hare firm.
Portable planters will be stationed there, fitting in with retro-style streetlights, new benches, trees and artwork, changeable LED “festoon lighting” and plexiglass roofs over alleys leading to downtown parking lots.
Last to be installed will be the all-brick intersection of Dewey and East Fifth, featuring a decorative seal highlighting downtown’s proximity to the sites of North Platte’s service canteens in both world wars.
Some of the streetscaping materials have been ordered, and others soon will be, said longtime Downtown Association board member Alan Hirschfeld.
If Paulsen finishes its work when it thinks it can, that raises the odds the streetscaping also can be finished by the time the Christmas shopping season starts, he said.
That would put a bow on the third and busiest season of downtown’s “renovations in progress,” highlighted thus far by the district’s July inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Individual storefront facelifts also continue.
“I can’t say 100% of the streetscaping” will be finished before Christmas, Hirschfeld said. “But in the next two to three weeks, we’ll know.”
He praised the quality of Paulsen’s work as well as its quickening pace.
“I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as that group works,” he said. “They’re never standing around.”
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