A NEW GATEWAY: First Street construction project begins Monday

An artist rendering depicts how the entrance to Douglas Park First Street Beach will look once it has been reconstructed.

MANISTEE — The days of complaining about the condition of First Street are numbered.

“We waited a long time for this gateway to be done,” community development director Jon Rose said. “And we waited because we wanted to do it right and we had to get (the) Cedar Street (sewer separation project) out of the way before we could do it. But, it’s worth the wait.”

A portion of First Street was rebuilt during the Cedar Street project, and construction will begin Monday on the remainder of the street west of the armory. In three months, Manistee will have a new entryway to Douglas Park First Street Beach.

“It is extremely important for people to understand that it will be dusty and it will be gravel roads coming in and out for the rest of the summer,” city engineer Jeff Mikula said of the project. “But there will always be a way to get to the boat launch and to the hotel and beaches.”

A detour will be in place, with traffic being redirected from First Street south on Spruce to Eighth, west on Eighth to Cherry and north on Cherry to the beach.

“The neighborhood and businesses will still be accessible by Second Street and Water Street,” Mikula added, “but through traffic will need to take the detour.”

Temporary gravel roads will be installed to get traffic off Cherry to the beach, boat launch and Lake Shore Motel. These roads may change as the project continues, but access will remain open through the project’s completion, which is set for Nov. 14.

At that time, the entrance to the beach will have received a major facelift.

“When the road is reconstructed, it was designed to meet the complete streets criteria, which means that it addresses all forms and modes of transportation,” Mikula said. “It will have brand new roads, there will be new landscaping islands, there will be new bike lanes, new sidewalks, the landscape islands will contain new LED streetlights and banner flagpoles along with landscaping. There is a roundabout that is planned just northwest of the softball field on First Street where the north and south loop will intersect.”

While the roundabout will be equipped for some sort of focal point, such as a statue, that is not included as a part of this project. Instead, the interior of the roundabout will be planted with a blue variety of dune grass. Rose said its future is yet to be determined.

“Currently there is parallel parking on First Street going down the hill on both the north and south side,” Mikula said, “and because we’re going to add bike lanes and the island, we put back two small parking areas on the north side and then have designed a two-tiered, universally accessible deck that overlooks the harbor and will be a fantastic feature.”

Additionally, the traffic flow for the boat launch is being reconfigured, with the entrance and exit on the west end of the launch.

Cpnstruction begins Monday, and detours will be in place until the projects is completed in November.

“It will improve traffic flow for the boats and trailers,” Rose said, “and get them farther away from the intersection of Cherry.”

While those improvements are being made above ground, a few will be made under the soil as well.

“The project will include water main work along First Street, a new gravity sewer system along First Street and near the fish cleaning station and replacing an old sanitary pumping station with a brand new pumping station and forced main,” Mikula explained.

When city officials were discussing the project, minimalizing the impact to boaters and beachgoers was discussed in detail.

“We determined that it would take at least three months to build the project,” Mikula said. “So the options were to begin construction in the spring of 2012 and try hard to get it done before the Fourth of July and impact spring fishing or build it during the middle of the summer this summer and then certainly impact the Forest Festival and the salmon run or do it toward the end of the summer and do our best to keep access to the beach and fishing open.

“So when it was reviewed with city staff and city council, it was determined that assuring that there was no impact to the Forest Festival was extremely important and that the road is in such bad condition that nobody was in favor of letting it go into another season, so it was decided to move forward and make the best of it.”

Hallack Contracting out of Hart is the contractor on the project, the total expenditures of which are expected to be in the $1.5 million range. Mikula said the city is funding the project internally through a variety of sources including the water and sewer, major and minor street and capital improvement funds.

“This is the first major implementation of the beach conceptual plans,” Mikula said, “and it brings a beautiful new entryway into the city’s largest beach.”

3 comments on “A NEW GATEWAY: First Street construction project begins Monday

  1. avatarSnoMan

    It looks like it will be a long awaited improvement to First St. I see in the artist rendering that the overhead electric is still in place. Isn’t there somewhere to get the additional funds to go underground with the utilities also. It certainly would clean it up even more!

    Great job Manistee, Keep up the momentum!

  2. avatarrgsimons

    I agree get the utilites underground, to do it in 10 years would mean ripping up all the streets again and the landscaping too. To bad acess to what was the best beach in town (5th Ave) was made nearly impossible for a tourist to find. First St beach always seemed to be a dead fish and trash magnet due to natural wave action. But then I would rather swim in Portage Lake any day.

  3. avatargeezer39

    I agree. The utility poles need to go. 5th Ave beach access has been compromised by the Village there.
    We used to walk to the beach in the 40s and 50s as we lived about 2 blocks from it on the north side.

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