BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Construction is well underway in the 200 block of Conant Street for additional parking, new sidewalks, new landscaping and more.
The block is being prepared for a new Monnette’s Market, which is still on track to open in that area. Maumee city administrator Patrick Burtch said that when finished, the block would illustrate what the rest of the uptown will look like.
“This is a microcosm of the entire uptown project,” Burtch said.
Conduits for food trucks are being added and the light poles are being painted. While much of the work is happening above ground, there is work happening below ground as well with electrical systems being separated by block.
“We are doing a lot of corrections that people won’t see because the work is underground,” Burtch said.
In March, Maumee City Council voted in favor of putting the streetscape project out for bid. Helms Excavating is completing the work in the 200 block for a cost of $600,000. Construction will likely continue through the end of November.
The rest of the Conant Street project will go out for bid next month and work could begin in the spring of 2022.
Overall, the uptown improvement project calls for calming Conant Street traffic while advocating a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streetscape. The purpose is to create an area where people want to live and work. Burtch addressed members of the Maumee Chamber of Commerce about the issue at the September luncheon.
“Our community for years did not have the infrastructure necessary for economic opportunity,” he said.
Making people feel comfortable walking down a street while engaging in outdoor dining, storefront displays and shopping is the sort of atmosphere that helps drive business growth, he added.
“In municipal government and state government, we have to start providing a place where businesses can be successful, and that isn’t always easy to quantify,” he said. “If my uptown area has dilapidated sidewalks and traffic is starting to move at 50 mph past my businesses, and people don’t feel safe walking 18 inches from traffic that is passing by at a very high rate of speed, you have to start rethinking your paradigm of what we do in government and how it affects business.”
Other changes that will lead to significant construction projects in the area include upgrades to the Anthony Wayne Trail corridor. The project will likely begin next summer and will take nearly two years to complete.
In Maumee, the changes call for slowing traffic and adding trees, curbs and a bicycle trail. Drivers will have a reduced speed limit to 35 mph from Key to Ford streets, and the inside traffic lanes will be reduced from 12 feet to 11 feet in an effort to slow traffic on the trail naturally.
“Where pedestrians were not considered as much, they are now considered much more in this model,” Burtch said. “We don’t build streets just for cars, we build them for intermodal – we build them so that bicyclists and pedestrians can feel more safe in that throughway.”
In October 2019, Maumee City Council approved a $99,541 contract with DGL Consulting Engineers to study traffic in the uptown district. The project involved studying the traffic movements in and around the streets and intersections in the uptown district.
“They were all studied with different components and different interventions to see how this works,” he said.
In addition, the new traffic patterns continue to be reviewed and changes are made as needed, such as tweaking the timing of lights.
“There isn’t some point and time that it is finished – it’s ongoing,” Burtch said.
While construction on Conant Street and the Anthony Wayne Trail is underway, construction on the new 20A interchange, which also includes adding a lane on the expressway and rebuilding the bridge over Monclova Road, is also slated to begin next year.