Downtown construction on the south side of the Licking County Courthouse Square is entering the home stretch, while the north side prepares for its experience dealing with torn up roads and sidewalks and underground utility work.

But the timetable for completion of the overall project is shifting from November 2017 to early 2018.
Meanwhile, paving will begin next week on East Main Street, between First and Second streets, site of the annual Newark Strawberry Festival, on June 3-5.

Joe Hickman, the city’s project manager for the three-year construction effort, said the changes to the schedule are because of an extension to the construction zone.

Fred Ernest, director of Newark Development Partners community improvement corporation, said, “I think we’ll be excited seeing that get done. We’ve been blessed with good weather. I’d say we’re doing pretty darn good.”
East Main Street and South Third, south of Market Street, will be finished within a month. South Third, north of Market Street, including the roundabout in front of McDonald’s, should be completed in June, finishing the southern half of the Square.

“Pavers will be in Monday and start on East Main Street, and they’ll go back and forth to South Third Street,” Hickman said. “If the weather is decent, East Main and South Third, from Market to Walnut, will be paved by the end of next week (May 13).”

East Main Street will be one lane in each direction, with a left turn lane into Wendy’s and two lanes turning right onto North Second Street. East Main will continue to have left- and right-turn lanes and a straight lane for eastbound traffic at First Street.

Paving roads is not the most time-consuming part, Hickman said, especially on South Third, just south of South Park Place.

“Sidewalks will take a little longer,” Hickman said. “The old coal bins and old outside entrances, all being filled in with granular back fill. It takes quite a bit of time. It’s 8 feet deep. And, there’s a lot of brick in (sidewalks), and brick work takes twice as long as straight concrete work.”

The next construction segment, from June to December, will cover a larger area than previously planned. In addition to West Main Street, between Third and Fourth streets, it now covers North Third Street, including the third roundabout at the intersection of North Third Street and North Park Place.

“Chronologically, it puts us in a good spot,” Hickman said. “It gets us off the Square three to four months earlier.”

Completing the North Third-North Park intersection earlier should help with detours, Ernest said.

“I think it gives us more options to route traffic,” Ernest said. “It’ll help with the traffic situation, with construction going on in other areas.”

The project, which had been slated to end in November 2017, likely will go a little longer, Hickman said.

“I believe we’ll go into the early part of 2018,” Hickman said. “We’ll go into the first quarter of 2018, but we’ll be off the Square (by August 2017).”

One reason for the lengthened timeline is extending the construction on North Third Street. Originally ending at Church Street, it will extend to Locust Street, connecting to another road construction project — the conversion of North Third/Hudson Avenue and North Fourth/Mount Vernon Road to two-way streets.

Work on North Second Street and North Park Place will start in January and finish in August. The final segment will be North Third Street, north of North Park Place, to Locust Street.