A town council committee today approved work on a portion of the Coleman Blvd. revitalization project.
The portion, from Fairmont Avenue to Pherigo Street, will cost a little more than $520,000 and will start immediately. The work could be complete by the end of April.
The project includes a planted median, on-street parking, a bike path, as well as more decorative lighting and the planting of overhead power lines. Eventually, the town plans a similar overhaul of the entire boulevard from Shem Creek to Chuck Dawley.
The project has received mixed reviews, mostly from business owners who are concerned that the addition of the median and the elimination of a center turn lane will impact business.
"We think this could help with some of the reluctance," said Town Administrator Eric DeMoura. "Once people see how it looks, see how it feels, we think it will fuel the private investment this project needs."
Town leaders envision Coleman Boulevard, once the overhaul is complete, as being more of a main street in a town that grew up without a central business district.
"These funds also include street furniture, the decorative mast arms and signage," DeMoura said.
The project has been approved in concept since 2006, but the nationwide economic meltdown slowed private investment in the types of projects town leaders believe will create the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere they are seeking.
The Boulevard, an apartment complex with retail development on the bottom levels, broke ground in 2012. That project prompted the town to complete at least a portion of Coleman Boulevard, DeMoura said.
"When The Boulevard came along, we decided that we could pull out a portion of the project and get it started right away," DeMoura said.
The roadway enhancements include roughly a half mile of Coleman Blvd. but stops short of the Chuck Dawley roundabout, which is a separate project the town is planning as part of the Coleman overhaul.