Construction season a chaotic one here, but officials wouldn’t do it differently

Published 8:59 am Friday, November 26, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - While Niles city officials were up to their necks in complaints from citizens upset over the downtown construction projects which made life difficult for many in the area, those involved said they wouldn't do anything different if given the choice.
The decision to complete the downtown streetscape project in the same year as the combined sewer overflow (CSO) and federally-funded street improvement projects made for a hectic summer of construction.
But the whirlwind of construction will mean less headaches in the years to come, said Niles Public Works director Neil Coulston.
Niles city administrator Terry Eull also said the decision to complete the three projects in one summer was the wisest course of action.
As for the complaints, Eull said those will come with any project the city chooses to do.
Eull said the results of the exhaustive summer are definitely worth the pains endured.
If the city had decided to do the CSO project next summer instead, it would have meant tearing up much of the streetscape work next year in an effort to install necessary water and sewer lines, Coulston said.
The project, which Coulston thought caused the most problems downtown was the street improvement project on Broadway.
The Broadway project provided yet another delay for motorists trying to get through downtown Niles during the construction.
Many complaint calls Coulston fielded came from motorists who were tied up in traffic caused by street closures and traffic being reduced to one lane in each direction during the construction.
Despite the complaints received during the summer, Coulston thinks most people are happy with the end result of all the construction.
Coulston said the decision to complete the federally-funded street improvement projects was made to avoid having them fall in the same summer as some Michigan Department of Transportation projects scheduled for the summer of 2005.
The MDOT projects include improvements to Business 12 and M-51 from the state line up to the northern Niles City limits.
While the projects are completed for the most part, Coulston said there is still some work to be done.
The city must now go through the projects with a punch list to fix any issues which have risen after the completion of the projects.
For example, the city must now work with MDOT to put up certain road signs in the downtown area which are required, such as speed limit and road designation signs.
Coulston also said the city must work with the streetscape project's contractor, Pioneer and Associates of Leo, Ind., to finish small things which didn't initially get completed.