Drivers in the know have been avoiding large road projects north of downtown, with a major rebuilding of Orchard Avenue and the second and finishing phase of the North Seventh Street reconstruction well under way.
On Seventh Street south of St. Mary's Medical Center, the rebuild of the 40-plus-year stretch of road between Orchard and Wellington avenues still has about four weeks of construction work left, and that's only after crews with Xcel Energy are able to finish a powerline undergrounding project, according to Trent Prall, city public works director.
Those Xcel crews are currently doing utility work along Orchard, though, a project Prall said was "a little more critical right now." Construction crews hope to finish that total rebuild during this construction season.
"They're working on getting back to the Seventh Street corridor," he said, adding that there are still 12 weeks left of construction work on Orchard after Xcel is able to get out of the way.
Along north Seventh, this is the second summer of construction in the corridor — a two-phase reconstruction project from North Avenue to Patterson Road. Last year, similar Xcel delays pushed the project slightly off-schedule, into late September.
This year, the reconstruction project is from Orchard to Wellington, just south of St. Mary's. Work has been mostly finished on the east side of the street, where traffic has been diverted. Fortunately that side of the street is also where Tope Elementary sits, and Prall said some final paving work on that side will be done this weekend, in advance of school beginning on Monday.
On the other side of Seventh, part of the project includes realigning curbs and gutters, which previous to construction were some four feet farther into the roadway than the rest of the corridor.
The final piece of the project, north of Wellington to Patterson, only requires a new overlay, as that stretch of road was realigned and improved about a dozen years ago as part of an expansion of St. Mary's.
Despite the shift in timing, Prall said that the second-phase Seventh Street project remains on budget. The $1.471 million construction contract is with Grand Junction-based United Companies.