Main Street visitors cross the street while Miller Paving construction workers lay 15-inch storm drains in a trench on the north end of lower Main Street
Main Street visitors cross the street while Miller Paving construction workers lay 15-inch storm drains in a trench on the north end of lower Main Street in front of Mary Jane s and Mountain Town Olive Oil Company on Thursday. Christopher Reeves/Park Record.
Bulldozers, orange traffic cones and the beeping of construction trucks are a part of the Main Street scene once again. A year ago, phase one of one of the first major public sector upgrades since the 1990s began on Main Street and lasted until early October. This year, merchants are glad construction began during the shoulder season instead of right in the middle of the increasingly busy summer season.

Alison Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said crews got a late start on construction last year. They made sure to get an early start this year and went "full speed ahead" on construction as soon as Park City Mountain Resort closed for the ski season recently.

"Construction will last into the fall, but we will make sure during busy times in the summer to identify and work on places that are not as visible to the public," she said. "We will modify and finalize timelines for where we are working on construction and when we are doing it during the busy summer season."

Jodi Jensen, general manager of the Alaska Fur Gallery, said she is grateful construction got started during what is already a slow time of the year on Main Street. She hopes they are done with the "nasty work" by the Fourth of July.

"This is a lot more construction than they did last year, but I think it will be fine," she said. "Right now it's not affecting us, because it's midseason. Shoulder season is a good time to do it."

According to Butz, Questar Gas is replacing sections of the main natural gas line, and that work is primarily being done on the east side of Main Street downhill from the post office. Sections between 4th Street and 5th Street will be replaced in May. That phase of construction should be done quickly, she said.

Butz said last fall the entire Main Street "makeover" will take between five and seven years. City Hall has committed $14 million for improvements over that period of time, she said, but that is if everything runs smoothly and stays on track.

"At this point, we are working hard to make sure to keep the businesses on Main Street updated," Butz said. She added that Craig Sanchez, a City Hall staffer, has been assigned to keep business owners and employees up to date on construction.

A survey was sent out last fall when phase one of construction ended to see what merchants thought worked and didn't work in terms of being updated and staying accessible during construction. Butz said the feedback was positive, so City Hall and the group are trying to follow the same model as last year.

Chris Meyer, owner of Dancing Hands Gallery, said construction has slowed business a little during the week, but she is grateful for the updates from the city.

"They gave us a construction schedule, and they're doing the best they can," she said. "We just want to snap our fingers and have everything be done, but it doesn't work that way. [Construction work] has to be done, and there is not a whole lot we can do about it."

After Questar Gas is done replacing sections of the main gas line, Butz said Miller Paving will be completely redoing the intersection of 7th Street and Main Street by replacing sidewalk materials and utilities.

"They have been phenomenal with keeping on schedule and doing what we ask when we run into problems," she said.

Construction will then begin on the walkway with a bronze bear on a bench between Main Street and Swede Alley. The date for the beginning of that construction has not been set. Butz said they are working hard to make sure construction doesn't hurt business on Main Street.

"The sidewalk is literally falling apart and creating trip hazards, and the light poles are falling apart, too. There is a refresh that was needed," she said.

Merchants on Main, including Kristen Moss of Flight Boutique, Raette Belcher of Southwest Indian Traders, Jensen and Meyer, are grateful that construction is taking place during the shoulder season and appreciate the updates from the city.

"They were really great to work with last year, kept our doorways open and if anything needed to be done, they let us know ahead of time," Jensen said. "The city and construction people were and continue to be great."