MT. VERNON — The South 34th Street re-alignment project is underway this week.
"The first phase of the project is to widen and improve the street from Harlan Road to the entrance of the Aquatic Zoo," said City Manager Ron Neibert. "That will happen while the Aquatic Zoo is open."
The project, which includes re-alignment of the intersection of South 34th Street and Veterans Memorial Drive south of the intersection, is a continuation of the widening and alignment project completed last year from Peach Street south to Veterans Memorial Drive. In addition, improvements to the small road leading from South 34th Street to Good Samaritan Regional Hospital — commonly referred to as Samaritan Way — will be completed under the first phase of the project.
Keeping the new Aquatic Zoo open while still making the needed street improvements have been a priority to the city, and by phasing the project, the facility will still have easy access for visitors, Neibert said. During the first phase, access from South 34th Street to the ballfields at Lincoln Park and Brennan Klein Field will be through a detour on Harlan Road.
"The detour will be from Veterans to 29th Street, down to Harlan Road," Neibert explained. "There will be full access to Lincoln Park during the construction.
"When the Aquatic Zoo closes, we will begin the part of the project which involves the section of South 34th from Veterans Memorial Drive, and the improvements to the intersection," Neibert said.
Improvements on Veterans Memorial Drive include widening to add turn lanes.
Prior to the construction phase, power lines along South 34th Street were moved by Ameren — with the city paying about $200,000 for the work. In addition, city crews replaced cast iron water lines along the roadway.
Guinzy Construction of Ashley has been awarded the construction contract for the widening and realignment project at $1.9 million — under the budgeted estimated cost of $2.4 million.