Downtown construction forcing students to watch their step



Jason Henry and Jason Henry

Students expecting to travel their usual route downtown will collide with orange barrels blocking a steep drop, as excavators and bulldozers now crowd the usually pedestrian-heavy East Wooster Street.

Individuals attempting to cross through the construction zone are subject to a misdemeanor charge with up to a $100 fine, according to Lt. Tony Hetrick of the Bowling Green Police Division.

Sixty-nine citations for violation of a traffic control device have already been issued, including one individual who got stuck in the construction zone after driving around the barrier while following a GPS. Fifty-nine of the charges will be dropped, according to the city prosecutor’s office.

“Of those 69 citations, a large majority of them are going to be dismissed because of improper marking in the construction zone,” Hetrick said. “It wasn’t as secured as it maybe should have been.”

The construction area has been tightened up and citations will be enforced, he said.

“People need to stay out of there, it is a hazard,” he said. “If you are found in there, you will be cited.”

The construction will continue to detour pedestrians and traffic until mid-to-late October, according to Brian Craft, the public works director.

The current project, expected to cost a little over $1 million, will upgrade sewer lines and place new curbs, sidewalks and curb ramps.

In addition, new street lights will go up while telephones poles will come down — with wires being rerouted underground or directly to the buildings on the street.

Craft said the extra traffic from move-in weekend was taken into consideration, but the project had to be completed at this time to avoid conflicting with planned construction on North Main Street next year.

“The goal is to get this done this calendar year, in advance of a big North Main project we have coming next year, so we don’t have Main and Wooster shut down at the same time,” he said. The North Main project will widen the street from Dale Drive to the Woodland Mall.

The Wooster Street project has experienced a number of issues.

John Fawcett, the municipal administrator, said two blocks had to be evacuated after a medium gas pressure line was cut into last Friday.

“The police and the fire division actually did go door to door and evacuate all of the buildings in that area,” he said.

Fawcett said complaints have been received from businesses about the lack of traffic, while residents are furious about having their lawns being used as sidewalks for those trying to reach the businesses.

He said businesses could still be reached by using Clough Street for businesses on the south side of street or Court Street for businesses on the north side.

“My best advice is heed any road or sidewalk closure signs,” Fawcett said. “Do not cross the barriers, do not cross in to the construction zone, avoid it at all costs.”