Ped Mall construction set to begin Phase 2 in May

Construction in the Ped Mall will be entering Phase 2 in May. The construction will affect the east and west ends of College Street.


Tate Hildyard

Downtown Iowa City continues rennovations on Monday, March 25th, 2019.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

After nearly a year of construction, Phase 1 of the Pedestrian Mall improvements program will wrap up this month, and Phase 2 is set to begin May 13.

The second segment will occur on the east and west ends of College Street. Scott Sovers, an Iowa City senior civil engineer, said the improvements in Phase 2 will be similar to the improvements that were accomplished in other areas of the Ped Mall during Phase 1.

The improvements include replacing the water mains and electrical infrastructure and creating new paved surfaces, Sovers said. New benches, trash compactors, and trash bins will also be added.

Before beginning Phase 2, there are still pieces of Phase 1 to be completed, he said. An area on the west side of Dubuque Street needs to be finished, as well as a new stage area on Dubuque Street.

Work will move to the new stage area beginning in mid-May, according to a release from the Iowa City Downtown District.

“We have most of the structure up, but we have lights, conduits, and then some glass to put up on that stage canopy before it’s finished,” Sovers said.

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Financially, the project has mostly stayed on track, Sovers said. The project was originally estimated to cost $7.4 million, but he said it will likely be between $7.5 and $8 million.

The goal of the project is to preserve pedestrian access to all businesses in the construction area, he said.

“There may be a period of time where we have areas where we’re doing work that cannot be accessible, but we’re going to make all of the businesses accessible throughout the construction of the project,” he said.

The city has announced weekly construction update meetings for property owners and businesses in the area, with the first to be held Friday at the Iowa City Public Library. The meetings will continue every Friday through Nov. 22.

Phase 2 is estimated to last 25 weeks, with the substantial completion date set at Oct. 31.

Sovers said he hopes the construction doesn’t turn people away from visiting the Ped Mall over the next several months.

“I would encourage people to continue to come downtown and visit their favorite restaurants and businesses,” he said. “Everything is still open, and we’re providing access to all of them.”

Cassidy Bell, the store manager at Ten Thousand Villages, which is located in the Phase 1 construction area, said the work hasn’t caused much disruption to her business.

“People know they’re going to have to walk anyway,” she said. “So I think if it had disrupted parking and driving, it would have been a different story.”

Velvet Coat manager Betsy Wilson said she isn’t worried about the upcoming construction on College Street affecting the store.

“I think it’s going to take a little getting used to, but I’m not too worried,” she said.

Despite the inconvenience of construction outside the doors, both Wilson and Bell said they’re excited about the improvements.

“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” Wilson said. “I think it’s necessary, and I think it’s going to be so much better down here.”