PORT TOWNSEND — Construction will begin Tuesday on a $2.3 million project to upgrade Port Townsend’s downtown.
The Water Street Enhancement Project promises to be a “major disruption,” as Councilman Robert Gray put it, until it is completed in about six months.
But once finished, it will have replaced 80-year-old sewer lines running under Water Street, while putting in infrastructure that will see overhead utilities such as power lines moved underground by 2020.
It will revamp Water Street sidewalks to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, resize parking spaces in downtown to make them more uniform and transform the small parking lot at the end of Tyler Street into a pedestrian area with beach access.
Upgrades are planned from the Port Townsend ferry landing to Taylor Street.
Businesses are expected to remain open. City officials said the goal is to keep at least one lane open downtown at all times.
Tyler Street on the south side of Water Street will be closed to traffic when the pedestrian plaza is constructed, although pedestrians will continue to have access.
The city budgeted $2.7 million for the project.
The city was awarded $690,000 from the state Transportation Improvement Board and has about $950,000 in funding available from the water, sewer and stormwater utility funds.
To keep customers coming to businesses during construction, the Port Townsend Main Street Program plans events for each month to attract more people to downtown and has printed coupon books with special offers.
Mari Mullen, executive director of Port Townsend Main Street, has said that almost 60 businesses have signed up to participate.
The theme for the campaign is “paving the way to a brighter future.”
Main Street is using a $35,000 grant from the First Federal Community Foundation and $25,000 from the city to host the events and spread the word.
First Federal also has contributed to Main Street’s Light at the End of Tunnel (LENT) Fund, which allows local businesses to secure micro-loans from the revolving fund for up to $4,000.
Throughout the construction, “celebrity concierges” will greet visitors downtown and help out wherever they can from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, Mullen said.
This month, the special downtown event is the “Believe it or Knot” game, in which visitors are encouraged to visit numerous shops downtown to learn more about Port Townsend.
The theme for February is “Local Love.” People will be encouraged to shop and dine downtown during construction and to share what they love about Port Townsend.
On Saturdays in March, the Jefferson County Historical Society will offer tours. In April, visitors will be encouraged to count their steps to be entered in prize drawings.
May will be an art month and in June, Mullen expects Main Street to celebrate the completion of the construction project with the Tyler Street Plaza Wrap-Up Party.
For more information about special events, see http://ptmainstreet.org/.
For more about the project,see http://www.cityofpt.us/.