MT. VERNON — —
People employed by downtown businesses, including the Jefferson County Courthouse, were surprised arriving for work Wednesday by the presence of a tree grinder on South Ninth Street.
Several trees were uprooted on the west side of the street, followed by more work on the east side of the square, on the east side of the street. The work is all part of the Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation's Streetscape Program.
"The trees were getting too big. When they get too big, they lift the sidewalk," explained DMDC President Laura Thacker. "We are doing streetscape improvements on Ninth Street, repaving sidewalks, installing new pavers so they are evenly laid, and new trees will be planted with tree grates."
The bid for the streetscape project was awarded in February to DePew and Owen of Centralia for $389,598, which was under the two other bids and well under the projected project cost of $450,000. The project is grant-funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation Enhancement Program, which will pay for up to 80 percent of the project and the city picking up 20 percent.
The scope of the work includes new pavement, curb ramps, decorative unit pavers, site lighting system and other coordination work with existing utilities and infrastructure. The area in this phase of the program is on Ninth Street from Jordan Street north to Main Street.
The downtown streetscape program began in 2009. The first phase of projects began on Main Street near the United Methodist Church to the Jefferson County Courthouse.
"We're pretty excited to see the work done," Thacker said. "It will be torn up most of the summer but by fall it should be much better."
City officials have previously reported the work on Ninth Street is expected to be completed by the end of July.