Construction on the approximate $1.2 million enhancement project on Abilene’s South 1st Street between Butternut and Locust streets began Monday morning.
City Engineer Chad Carter said the project will not only beautify the area, it will also provide a safer roadway for motorists and pedestrians.
“We'll be adding some more detectable crosswalks, if somebody is sight impaired, it’ll assist them” Carter said. “Also the medians that'll be constructed will kind of provide a refuge so that somebody doesn't have to walk all that way across five lanes of traffic to get across South 1st.”
Business owners in the area are eager to see the project completed.
“They're going to have the old timey lights on the corners. We're going to have trees in front of our store – which we never had before – and bricks on the sidewalk,” said Tom Rose, owner of Thomas Everetts Furniture. “It's going to be really exciting.”
The lighted and landscaped median that will be included in the project will feature lighting similar to the lights in Everman Park. The median will resemble the median on South 14th Street near Winters Freeway.
Rose said he hopes the extra lighting will help deter crime in the area.
“We've had our share of broken windows and shot out windows. We've been broken into, we've been vandalized just as much - if not more - than anyone on this street,” Rose said. “The extra lighting should help.”
Abilene police said the lighting could also help witness to any potential crimes get a better idea of what they are reporting.
As for the cost of the project, the city received approximately $700,000 in the from of a grant from the Federal Highway Administration. The city had to put in approximately $500,000.
The project only covers about six blocks of South 1st Street and is expected to take 105 working days. The Pine Street revitalization project on the other side of the railroad tracks in downtown Abilene covered more than 20 blocks.