The Streetscape project in downtown was supposed to begin this summer but has been pushed back until the start of 2019, Larry Matthews, director of the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said on Thursday.
Matthews said one of the delays has been waiting for Entergy Arkansas, which is in charge of the lighting installation, to submit its plans to the engineers.
McClelland Consulting Engineers is heading the project, and Matthews said Entergy has completed their work. Now it’s up to McClelland to incorporate Entergy’s lighting design work into the master Streetscape plan, Matthews said.
The final step is getting approval from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, which could take two months, according to Matthews.
The project will be done in two phases, beginning with a section of Barraque Street between Main and Walnut streets. From there, work will continue south on Main Street down to Eighth Avenue, Matthews said.
The first phase is expected to take between nine months and a year to complete, he said.
“That is the largest part of the project, phase one,” Matthews said. “The second phase, we don’t anticipate it being that long — probably between six and nine months.”
The project will include new sidewalks, landscaping, including trees, along with other enhancements, as well as new water lines, which Liberty Utilities is handling, Matthews said. The Bradford Pears that currently line Main Street will be uprooted in favor of new trees, Matthews said, adding that he isn’t sure just yet what type of trees they will be.
The project was included in the “Penny for Progress” tax proposal approved by Pine Bluff voters in 2011, with $2 million allocated. The city has also received a $1.35 million grant from the Delta Regional Authority, along with a $1 million grant from the highway department, according to Lori Walker, the assistant director of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.
There is also a $500,000 grant in the works from the highway department, Matthews said.
During the work, Matthews said Main Street will remain open.
“We definitely do not want to disturb businesses along Main, so it will be passable to cars,” he said.