Market Street facelift begins ahead of schedule
By Evan Belanger
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2442
A local business district is getting a facelift.
Less than two weeks after the Decatur City Council approved funding for a joint road project on Market Street near Rhodes Ferry Park, a city construction crew began tearing up pavement this week.
Working on Thursday to demolish old curbs, the crew will also lay down new road striping and complete some pavement work before calling in private contractors to finish the job.
Other parts of the $130,000 project include 21 new parking spaces, upgrades to an existing bike-and-walking trail, the addition of a brick-paved median and the elimination of a confusing intersection on Market Street.
Work on the project was expected to start in late December or early January, but
city crews are on site months ahead of schedule. Decatur Engineering and Public Works Director Mark Petersohn said the project is a priority for his department.
"I'm using a combination of public and private resources and trying to fast-track this as much as possible before the holidays," he said.
To help pay for the project, the Decatur City Council unanimously approved spending up to $70,000 during its meeting Oct. 15. The council also partnered with the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and local businessman William "Britt" Sexton.
Sexton has already purchased and developed much of the property around Rhodes Ferry Park, turning a former warehouse district with environmental issues into a bustling business district complete with its own restaurant.
He said the new road project, which he is helping to pay for, will further stimulate development in the area. In doing so, he said, he hopes to attract even more people to Decatur's riverfront area.
"Any time you can get people down by the water, that's what we want to do," he said. "We've got this God-given asset, and we should take advantage of it."
The Market Street project marks the third stage of a 15-year-old Chamber of Commerce plan designed to encourage private development along the Tennessee River in Decatur.
Called the Riverwalk Project, Phase IV will include a pedestrian path from Rhodes Ferry Observation Deck to the boat slips below.
Chamber of Commerce President John Seymour said there are also plans to add a stage at Founders Park near the Old State Bank building.
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