Planters going in on Loudoun Street
Posted: February 19, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — The new surface of the Loudoun Street Mall is starting to emerge.
Construction crews have begun placing planters in sections of the pedestrian mall close to Boscawen Street. The enclosures will contain trees and other vegetation when the project ends.
Concrete also has been poured up to the buildings in some parts of the overall construction zone. That base will soon be covered with brick or pavers.
“We’re really excited,” said Jason Lemire, operations manager for project contractor HRI Inc. “Everybody is seeing the concrete go down, so they’re starting to see it come out of the ground.
“Once the concrete goes down and the pavers go over top of that, it starts to look like a lot’s happening. We’re really excited for that transition.”
HRI, which has an office in Winchester but is headquartered in State College, Pa., is being paid $7.1 million to replace underground utility lines along the Loudoun Street Mall, install a new surface and add ground-level amenities. The project’s cost includes $700,000 for public bathrooms, gateway entrances and a splash pad water feature.
Construction is to be finished by April 30. The company has until May 31 to complete the landscaping.
It’s the pedestrian mall’s first major renovation since 1974, when the 1,600 feet between Piccadilly and Cork streets was closed to vehicle traffic and covered with bricks.
The planters are being constructed at the City Yards. Lemire said masons began working in mid-December to attach stone to the precast structural walls for the approximately 60 planters that will line the mall, and they’re hauled in sections to the work site.
“That allows the mason to work in a more controlled environment, out of the weather,” he said. “The primary reason we did it is for time. By having it done offsite, we can just move it in and place it.”
A granite cap will be placed atop the planter walls so people can sit on them, Lemire said.
Workers are expected to begin the tedious job of placing bricks and pavers next week.
“That is the labor-intensive part of the project,” Lemire said.
As of noon Monday, about 100 feet of concrete had been poured along the east side of the mall north of Boscawen Street and along both sides south of Boscawen.
Space was left for the bricks or pavers to be added. Orange or pink florescent paint has been sprayed at most entrances to highlight the step pedestrians must take to enter buildings.
It takes considerable coordination to pour concrete while maintaining building access as much as possible.
“I’d say that from a logistical standpoint, this is the most challenging part of the project,” Perry Eisenach, the city’s public services director, said. “To be able to do it in the expedited timeframe and to maintain access to both sides is difficult.
“We try to take advantage of closed businesses whenever we can, but some businesses are open seven days a week.”
City inspectors help coordinate schedules with building owners and tenants. Lemire said that if the crews maintain the proposed schedules, “there seems to be a lot less headaches.”
Meanwhile, the primary underground work is almost complete. Early Monday afternoon, crews were about 100 feet from Piccadilly Street, the last section that requires water and sewer mains and laterals to be installed.
The project began on Jan. 2, and Lemire said both mall business owners and the weather have been cooperative so far.
— Contact Vic Bradshaw at email@example.com