Downtown Streetscape to resume soon!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Streetscape project set to resume soon


OTTUMWA: Spring is coming. So is construction season. The second year of the downtown streetscape project should kick off sometime in early March, according to Public Works Director Larry Seals.

Work stopped late last fall as winter approached. Much of the first phase was complete, with new curbs and road in with the exception of the corner of Main and Green streets. That's where work will pick back up.

"Weather permitting, the plan is the ninth of March," Seals said. "They'll jump in at the corner and build the sewer out.

Weather is always the key question mark for construction projects. Dry, warm weather would allow the 2020 portion of the work to get off to a fast start. A wet spring could set things back considerably.

Ground broke on the work in May 2019. The project was always intended to take two construction seasons. It involves full replacement of the street and sidewalks in the 100 to 300 blocks of East Main Street, along with significant utility work. Landscaping is also part of the project, albeit one that wasn't as visible during last year's work.

Planners included new planting areas watered in part by use of semi-permeable pavers to collect rain. That approach is similar to the parking lot behind businesses on the south side of the 300 block of East Main Street.

The work is, inevitably, disruptive. Ottumwa officials knew it would have an effect on businesses in the area, and several store owners said in December they were hit hard.

Weather is not the only concern. Few cities, Ottumwa included, mapped the installation of utilities accurately until fairly recently. That means crews often know there is a sewer or water line under the road, but may not know precisely where. The same goes for gas lines.

The condition of those utilities can also be an issue. A gas leak in early December, near the time crews ended the project for the season, happened when a gas line failed. It was an old, corroded connection that blew out when dirt around it was removed.

Seals said the 200 block is the more challenging portion of the work due to how utilities are laid out.

There is not a formal date for completion of the project. The contract calls for work to wrap up this year, but with all the unknowns, it is not possible to say precisely when. If the weather holds, work should resume in a little more than a week.

"That's the plan," Seals said, "right now."

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter@mwmilner.

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Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation 217 East Main Street Ottumwa, Iowa  52501
Phone 641-682-3465 Fax 641-682-3466