Ran into Chris Penn of Good Records yesterday, at which point he told me about the sign planted in the middle of Greenville Avenue yesterday by the city's Public Works department -- the one that says southbound Greenville between Bell and Alta will be closed from September 26 till November 26. Which was news to Penn, not to mention a few other Lower Greenvillians with whom I've spoken since then, despite the insistence of city officials who say there were community sitdowns in advance of the tear-up.
"It's a difficult construction sequence," says Public Works's Henry Nguyen, project manager for the $1.3-million makeover we previewed last November. "We're doing our best. We were open during the first phase, but with the new pavement done [on the east side], we have to close it due to new construction. We're trying to get it done as quickly as we can, but this kind of construction in an urban environment is inconvenient. I am watching it closely. I know it's a high-profile project, and I'm trying to keep tabs on it."
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Nguyen says southbound traffic will be rerouted down Belmont and McMillian, and that northbound traffic will still be able to get through. He also says that before construction began, letters were sent to business and property owners about meetings during which they were briefed about the coming construction.
Penn and others say that's all well and good, but they simply didn't know it was going to get this bad: "It is very concerning to have the street closed altogether for two months solid, especially leading up to the holiday season," says Penn, who notes via email that that business has dropped off since crews began ripping up the street earlier this summer. "I know in the long run it will be good for the area, but let's hope we all make it out alive to get to the other end of the tunnel."
Council member Angela Hunt was out there today and says she's pleased with how construction's coming. She says, look, there's "really no alternative" to shutting down the southbound lanes, and that it'll be rough, absolutely.
"There's no doubt these are growing pains, and I understand it can be frustrating for businesses there," she says. "But this is going to be a dramatic improvement, so I hope we can live through it. It's gotta happen."