Main Street in Hamilton reopened to traffic

After more than five months of construction that caused detours, Main Street is open in both directions, to the relief of store owners.

“It is permanently open,” said Hamilton City Engineer Rich Engle.

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“They’ve got it open both ways,” said a pleased Bill Herren of music store Main Street Vinyl. “Hopefully it’ll get back to normal, or even better. But it’s definitely going to make a difference, with both lanes being open all the way through.”

“People can get to you without having to do a maze to get in to see us,” Herren said. When some customers next visit, they will notice his store has moved to a new location, across Main Street.

“I’ll just say — not just for myself, but for all of us up and down through here — ‘Hey, the streets are open, parking’s available. Come see us. Come visit our stores.”

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Construction crews continue to beautify sidewalks along the business corridor, but they will use the parking spaces along the edges of the street as their work areas, he said. In cases where they need more space and must use a travel lane, traffic will still continue in both directions.

The roadway had been closed so construction crews could upgrade a water main along the street and beautify sidewalks in preparation for Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, a proposed gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center nearby on North B Street.

Hamilton City Council plans a vote on a development agreement for that project on Oct. 25.

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At some point later this year, there will be a two-week period when the Main-Millville-Eaton intersection, which is being completely realigned for improved safety and traffic flow, will be completely closed. Even then, traffic will be detoured for only a short length, with the rest of Main Street remaining open.

“We haven’t determined the final dates of that yet, but it’ll be in the November-December vicinity,” Engle said. “Probably November, but we’re not sure yet.”

“The pain is nearly over,” Engle said.

Work on the sidewalks should be finished in November. Paving bricks are being added for beautification reasons, with the addition of attractive streetlights on the sidewalks.

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“We’ve got a lot of loyal customers who they’ll fight the traffic and the detours to get to us,” Herren said. “Some people, especially people who haven’t been here before, they don’t want to fool with it, because they don’t know the area or whatever.”

Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, had compliments for both the street’s merchants and the city.

“The merchants, I think, have been tenacious, and I think they have been creative in redirecting traffic to their shops,” Bates said. “A lot of them re-emphasized online business and special events to do business, like After Hours, and stuff like that. I’m sure they are thrilled to see they can get regular foot traffic back and feed off the street being open.”

“I applaud them for really being creative and getting business to their stores in other ways,” Bates said.

Also, “I think the city has been excellent about doing their best to try to keep the businesses informed of the progress — what’s going to be closed and when,” he said. “The city has had regular monthly meetings with the Main Street Association to keep them up-to-date on the construction.”

One thing that happened because of the street closure was greater communication among members of the Main Street Area Association, Bates said.

“Strength always comes when, unfortunately, there’s kind of a shared pain. They’ve shared ideas of using YouTube videos to get to their stores and stuff like that. I think it certainly has made the association of business owners stronger on Main Street. So there’s a positive in it all,” he said.

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