Delays Hinder Downtown GI Lighting Project


Going into more than a dozen downtown Grand Island businesses will require a little extra walking for a few more weeks while a $300,000 lighting and sidewalk project continues.

Work on the Downtown Historical Lighting Project started on April 7, and was supposed to be done by now, but GI City Project Manager Scott Griepenstroh says delays started when brick pavers to embellish the sidewalk didn’t come in on time.

“They have been making progress as they are getting some of the sidewalk poured which will relieve access for customers to get to those businesses,” says Griepenstroh.

The work extends around the Third Street and Wheeler intersection - one block to the east, one block to the west, and half a block south.

Businesses like Howard’s Jewelry aren’t closed because of the work, but orange barriers make street access for customers tricky.

“Of course it means we have to wait a little longer for the improvements - not something that I really wanted to see, and it does mean some delays that will cause us to have a lower traffic volume for the business, but the I mean we’ll get through like we already have,” says owner Craig Hand, who is also a board member of the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID).

Crews hope to have sidewalk work done in a couple of weeks, but the whole project won’t be finished even then. Historical lights have gone up, but need replaced because the poles were made in Mexico, and funding GI is getting for the work has a “Buy America” standard.

“Which are federal aid project requirements that any steel or iron that’s used in the project that they have to be fabricated domestically,” says Griepenstroh.

Griepenstroh says new poles are coming, but not quickly. He says fabrication and delivery can take up to 12 weeks.

He says the wait is worth it since that federal funding covers 80% of the project, leaving the Downtown BID with less cost to bear.

“It’s taken more time than anybody expected or wants it too, but when it’s all said and done, we’re all going to be pretty happy with the finished product,” says Griepenstroh.

“I think it’ll look real nice, we’re trying to restore the historic look of the downtown, and I think it’ll help accomplish that,” says Hand.

Downtown won’t be left in the dark while the project waits for the different poles. Contractors went ahead and installed enough to provide adequate lighting for that area of Third Street.

Reporter’s notes:

Griepenstroh says the contractor will be penalized for the pavers being late, but since lighting has been provided, they are trying to minimize the penalty for the pole’s not being domestically made.