Government

Phase II of Ped Mall improvements starts today

Iowa City Pedestrian Mall looking SW from Washington Street (2005 Gazette photo)
Iowa City Pedestrian Mall looking SW from Washington Street (2005 Gazette photo)

IOWA CITY — Just in time for summerlike weather to return and the downtown Friday Night Concert Series to kick off, crews are putting the finishing touches on the first phase of the Pedestrian Mall Improvement Project and kicking off the second phase.

Scott Sovers, senior civil engineer with the city of Iowa City, said work on the Weatherdance Fountain will continue into next week, as will work on the stage canopy in the Ped Mall. Sovers said the city has pushed crews to have that work finished in time for summer activities on the Ped Mall.

“It’s pretty important to us to have those areas done,” Sovers said.

He said crews have installed brick pavers and completed electrical work in Black Hawk Mini Park. The Story Wall — which will illustrate the history of Black Hawk Mini Park and include plaques dedicated to Iowa City’s famous residents — also is expected to be done this week.

Phase I of the Pedestrian Mall project saw crews replace sections of pavement, the water main and electrical work and upgrade park amenities, trash receptacles and lights.

During Phase II — which began Monday — similar improvements will be made. Pavement replacement will take place on the southern side of College Street, beginning near Dubuque Street, and work out toward Linn and Clinton streets. Sovers said workers first will remove the pavement closest to the buildings — such as Formosa and Bread Garden Market — while pedestrian traffic is somewhat lower thanks to many University of Iowa students going home for the summer. They’ll then shift to the interior pavement.

“It’s nice to get those walkways up against the buildings done when pedestrian traffic is down,” Sovers said.

He emphasized that all businesses will remain open during Phase II of the Pedestrian Mall improvements. Once it’s up and running, the Weatherdance Fountain will be operational all summer, and the playground outside the library will remain open during construction.

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Other Phase II work includes removing all the benches and lighting. Temporary lights will be installed until the new lighting is complete.

Sovers said Phase II — which is the final phase of the $8 million Ped Mall improvement project — is expected to be largely complete in October. The Ped Mall will remain open to foot traffic throughout the entire project.

“We encourage people to come down to the Ped Mall during construction,” Sovers said.

The 2019 Friday Night Concert Series is scheduled to begin Friday at the Northside Market Place, but will shift back to the Pedestrian Mall on May 24.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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