Posted: February 7, 2013 Incentives Offered So Contractors Finish Barstow St. Project Early
By Andrew Dowd
Leader-Telegram staff | Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Eau Claire will be offering a bonus if contractors can finish this summer's South Barstow Street construction ahead of schedule - or a penalty if they don't.
The city needs the project done before September's International Fall Festival and preferably before Labor Day weekend, city public works director Brian Amundson said Wednesday at a public meeting on the upcoming road work.
To ensure this, he's planning that the contract for the work will be similar to one the city did for 2003's Water Street construction project.
That contract allowed an incentive of up to $50,000 to open the road before university students returned to Eau Claire and the rental properties near Water Street. Haas Sons finished 14 days ahead of schedule, won the incentive and avoided penalties of $5,000 a day if they had gone over, according to Leader-Telegram archives.
Details of the South Barstow Street project are still being drafted, Amundson said, and firms will bid on it in April.
About 35 people attended Wednesday night's meeting at RCU headquarters, where the city unveiled more details on the downtown street project and who will bear its cost.
"We've increased the parking on Barstow by 20 percent than what's out there now," Amundson said.
On-street parking will go from the current 54 stalls to 65 with the project based on the city's plans.
More trees will be planted as the city plans to replace the 30 currently on the street with 42.
Seventeen loading zones created in September will be reconsidered.
The current 44-foot-tall streetlights will be replaced by shorter, more decorative ones with energy-efficient LED bulbs.
Raised landscaping beds from an earlier plan have been removed due to negative public reaction, Amundson said, and they've been replaced with regular landscaping.
The entire project will cost about $2 million and downtown businesses will be paying $625,300 of that in special assessments.
Hugh Passow, owner of the Antique Emporium, 317 S. Barstow St., has one of the wider storefronts on the street, leaving him with an assessment he estimates to be about $15,000.
"My property taxes - according to what they said - will go up 50 percent," he said. "That's a big chunk."
Landowners have the option of spreading their assessment payments over 10 years, which Passow expects to do.
While it will cost him money and he's expecting the usual decrease in business due to the project, he said it will bring some benefits. The new lighting will be more attractive, creates less light pollution and the LED bulbs require less energy, he noted.
With concrete joints failing on Barstow Street and sidewalks deteriorating, Amundson said it's important to overhaul one of the city's main downtown roads used seen residents and visitors.
"That's how they judge us, based on those streets," he said.