Posted at: 04/17/2013 3:31 PM
Updated at: 04/18/2013 12:29 AM
By: Maarja Anderson
While Tower Avenue is closed for six months from Belknap Street to 3rd Street while crews work on the road and sidewalk, businesses will remain open.
Monday's snowstorm delayed the major reconstruction project in Superior a few days, but Wednesday they broke ground before another storm hit.
Crews worked on the first steps of the six-month project. They began tearing up the blacktop with a cold planer. Crews also removed all the road signs after blocking off the nearly one mile stretch of Tower Ave.
The project is a collaborative effort between the City of Superior, WisDOT, and the Superior Business Improvement District (BID). The project is a $13.3 million project funded by the city and state.
In the works for nearly seven years, BID said they are ready to get the project underway.
"We just need to keep focusing that downtown is still open and they're ready to serve you," said BID's executive director, Kaye Tenerelli.
Tenerelli emphasized Tower Ave. is still ready for business. Front doors will be blocked for construction, so the alleyways and back doors will be used to conduct business.
Mayor Bruce Hagen said he hoped the "big dig" will actually draw more people to the area.
"Downtowns have reinvented themselves to be more people-friendly, gathering places, housing, other businesses, niche businesses, and that's what we are attempting to do here," said Mayor Hagen.
The city said they hope to revitalize north Tower Ave. with the project, not only by bringing in new business to vacant buildings, but also by supporting businesses already there.
Businesses like V.I.P Pizza have tried to prepare for the project. Owner, Aaron Dandrea, built a new back entrance last summer and had a mural painted outside the door.
"We've been doing some marketing so people realize we have a back entrance," said Dandrea.
In his restaurant, Dandrea has lined his walls with old photographs of the Twin Ports. One photo shows a bustling Tower Ave. in the 1950s. Dandrea said he hopes Tower Ave. can return to that type of business when the project is finished.
"We are hoping for a revitalization of downtown. The streetscape is kind of neat, it gives an old town, small town kind of feel," said Dandrea.
For updates on the the Tower Ave. project's progress, click here http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/wis35towerave/.