Main and B streets in Hamilton will receive major overhauls in coming months — some of the work starting in the next few days — as construction crews realign a major intersection and beautify sidewalks in preparation for development of the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill gigantic indoor complex up North B Street, where bulldozers should start moving later this summer.
“With the high likelihood of the sports complex coming to the city, we want to get Main Street ready,” said Rich Engle, Director of Engineering for the city. “The improvements on B Street and Main are all going to be tied together — we’re going to have the same street lights going up, all the way to the sports complex.”
“So it’ll be a natural connection between the sports complex and Main Street, and we want to get all the work done now, before the development starts to occur, and businesses start to move into Main Street.”
Sidewalks in the area also will receive beautification upgrades that will help prepare the Main Street area to look more like an upscale entertainment district that officials from the city and Spooky Nook say will be needed to serve throngs of athletes, their families and other visitors and tourists between games at what will be one of the largest indoor sports training and game venues in North America, attracting traveling teams from 3½-hour highway distances or farther.
With all the Main Street construction, city officials have pledged to the Main Street Area Association businesses that they will remain in close contact with them during the work, to help keep their businesses as accessible to their customers. The city is also taking steps to help drivers more easily find parking lots behind and between businesses along the corridor.
“It’s definitely going to impact the businesses while the work is going on, but I have a feeling that once it’s all said and done, this will really help out the businesses,” said Brian LeVick, the association’s president, who also owns Future Great Comics at 528 Main St. “So, hopefully they get it done in a timely fashion and things will work out.”
“I have a parking lot in back of my business, and there are other parking lots,” LeVick said. “It’s still kind of a scary thought to think it will impede people in front of the stores.”
“I would say the message to customers would be to check Facebook posts of the businesses, because they’ll probably give information about where you can park,” he said. “Or, just find one of the empty parking lots and take a stroll down Main Street, and you might be able to discover some new great businesses.”
Venita Allen, who owns lahVdah, which makes all-natural soaps and other beauty products, is concerned. She said she has a parking lot and back entrance to her store at 408 Main St., but worries about others who don’t.
“All of us love what we do and we have such great support from Hamiltonians waiting for us to succeed,” Allen said.
Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said he is confident the city will work hard to keep businesses and their customers connected.
Here is a closer look at the changes that are happening:
As part of this $3.2 million project, workers will make the Main Street corridor more attractive by putting overhead electric lines underground.
They also will improve the “streetscape” of sidewalks with decorative touches, such as adding brick pavers to sidewalks, planting decorative trees and installing attractive street lights that also do a better job of illuminating sidewalks so pedestrians feel safer at night.
While they are at it, they will be replacing 6- and 8-inch cast-iron water mains that are about 100 years old to 12-inch ductile iron mains that will provide increased capacity and greater flow to fight fires.
The work will be done in phases, according to the city:
- Phase 1, which will last about two months, will close westbound Main Street between D Street and Eaton Avenue. The westbound traffic will be detoured onto Park Avenue, which runs parallel to Main, but is one block to the north.
- Phase 2 will see westbound Main Street closed from B Street to Eaton Avenue about a month.
- During Phase 3, there will be eastbound and westbound closures on Main Street between B and C streets for about a month.
- Phase 4 will have various lane restrictions that affect areas of Main Street, as well as side streets (B through F streets).
The $3.9 million realignment of the intersections of Main Street with Millville and Eaton avenues will improve safety and traffic flow where there now is a tangle of crossings at sharp angles close together.
To end traffic conflicts and improve flow, the crossings will become one intersection where the streets meet at 90-degree angles.
Because of safety improvements that are expected, the Ohio Department of Transportation is paying around $3.4 million toward the project.
Here is the city’s schedule for that work:
- During Phase 1, starting this summer for about six months, Eaton Avenue will be closed up to Park Avenue;
- In Phase 2, also expected to take six months, starting in the cold months, Millville Avenue we be closed just west of the intersection; and
- During Phase 3, beginning next summer and for about six months, there will be lane restrictions along Main Street and also a closure of Main Street for less than two weeks to finish the project.