ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM)- You’ve probably seen all the construction in the downtown area of Elmira. The downtown Elmira construction is a federal aid project that has been in the works for 5 years now.
Public works director for the city of Elmira Andy Avery says, “the projects not done but the roadway is open to two-way traffic for the winter…and then they’ll be working in the sidewalk area doing some utility work over the winter and then come spring we’ll start working on the road and replacing the sidewalks and the curve.”
You may have noticed the new paving on water street but the construction is not complete. Avery says “we’re going into a winter shutdown on a major work for water street and there will be work in the sidewalk areas.”
The plan is to resume working in the spring but Avery explains that “spring is a fluid term here…in that it could start in March, it could start in April. But, whenever the weather breaks our contractor will really get into replacing the road, the storm drainage, the sidewalks, the curbing, doing the landscaping aspects of the project, and we are shooting for trying to get everything done by late June of next year but you just don’t know with the weather.”
Construction here in downtown Elmira has been affecting everyone but particularly business owners. I spoke with ‘Downtown Grind’ owner, Sara Caldwell who says even though she’s faced some troubles, she knows that this construction is necessary. “You know, now we’re offering delivery by door dash because there was no parking because there’s a crane and there’s a dumpster…Traffic’s only one way on water street so it’s been a challenge. It’s also given me an opportunity to grow and also you know I mean I know that this construction means that the city is blossoming and we’re having progress downtown. We need the water main to be redone, we need new nice egg electrical stuff happening.”
Avery says he is aware of the strain construction puts on local businesses and the general public, but he personally makes an effort to make sure people are still able to navigate the city even with all the obstacles construction poses.
“Construction always affects businesses. It doesn’t matter if it’s minor or major construction…when you limit access in any way it’s tough on a business. That’s one reason that on a regular basis I walked the project this fall trying to make sure pedestrians had access to businesses. I drove it regularly to ensure that the signage was right so people could find their way through downtown. And we also had other staff members doing the same thing. It’s critical for us to not get focused on the outcome of the project without also thinking about the businesses, and we know it impacts them the impact is even greater, but construction is not painless, unfortunately.”