New sidewalks, trees connect places of interest using Downtown Blueprint ideas

Continuing his commitment to downtown revitalization, Mayor Tom Henry kicked off the start of the Barr Street streetscape improvement project Monday.

This improvement project running from Main to Wayne streets is similar to what was done on Harrison Street. It involves installing new sidewalks with brick pavers, historically styled streetlamps, new trees and curbs, and other features to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

“Downtown is a gathering place for people, and this work on Barr Street is part of what will make the heart of our city more walkable, welcoming and truly remarkable,” Henry said. “We are using ideas collected from the public during the Downtown Blueprint process and making them a reality this summer for Barr Street. Investment in public infrastructure provides the framework for private investment.”

Construction activity will begin at the southeast corner of Barr and Berry in front of the History Center. The City anticipates construction to be complete at the end of May or beginning of June.

The intersections are being reconfigured to make them safer and more friendly to pedestrians. The curbs will extend into the parking lanes, which lessens the distance across the street but still allows for two lanes of traffic.

The City will replace the 10 existing trees with 15 Cleveland Select Flowering Pear trees, which have white flowers in the spring, and the leaves can turn a vibrant red in the fall. The new trees will be 14- to 16-feet tall when planted.

Barr Street is part of the Cultural District as outlined in the Downtown Blueprint and Blueprint Plus plans.

City officials selected this area for investment because of the buildings already in place '€“ Fourth Wave, the History Center and Barr Street Market, Renaissance Square and the First Source building.

“We don'€™t want to put in new trees and sidewalks in an area that could soon be under construction,” said Redevelopment Director Greg Leatherman. “Since this section of Barr Street is already developed, it was a perfect place for us to put these ideas into action.”

In the coming years, other downtown blocks will receive similar enhancements. “Inlaid brickwork, shady trees and ornamental fixtures add character and create a unique sense of place. These features are an invitation for walkers to enjoy the downtown experience. They instill pride, and they help to connect our many attractions and points of interest,” Henry said.

The cost of this phase is $648,000, with $496,000 coming from an Indiana Department of Transportation transportation enhancement grant given to the City in September 2004. This grant is designated for pedestrian-oriented projects. The remaining money comes from local economic development (CEDIT) funds.

Construction may involve some traffic restrictions and delays. Drivers and pedestrians should use caution in the area.