The long-awaited Manchester downtown renovation project is finally underway.
Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman and the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce held a ceremonial ground breaking Monday and construction crews rolled in equipment late Monday afternoon to begin work Tuesday that will give the downtown area a much-needed facelift.
Included in the work will be four electric car-charging stations, stamped pavement designs in all four intersections, wider sidewalks, buried utilities, landscaping islands with irrigation, decorative lighting, underground power boxes to enhance electric availability for special events and other small adjustments.
“This has been a long time going on,” Norman said to a small crowd gathered for the ground-breaking near Manchester City Hall Monday. “A lot of people have been working on that. Tourism [committee] probably started working on this 10 … 12 years ago.”
The work is set to begin Tuesday and will cause excess traffic congestion, Norman cautioned. The target date for completion is “sometime in 2014,” according to Norman.
The biggest chunk of funding for the project – $698,350 – comes from two state grants including Little Duck River Greenway extensions combined with surface transportation program funds. One phase, which totals about $352,040, requires a 20 percent local match, which is being put up by the Manchester Tourism Committee.
The biggest change from the original project plans is that Norman has worked to find the money to complete the entire square. The original plans called for two-sides of the square to be done with grant money first and the other two sides to be completed later.
“I went back to Nashville about eight or nine months ago and they give us money we can do things with,” explained Norman.
The money being used is part of the TDOT yearly allocation to the city for road projects.
“We get money from the state to work on bridges and things like that that we can use for this,” Norman said.
Manchester community leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking for downtown renovations Monday at city hall. (Staff photo by Josh Peterson)