Danville officials hope to hear good news soon on funding for upgrades along Main Street in preparation for the vice-presidential debate in October.
The city already has about $270,000 in grant money for new lighting and other streetscape work, which includes curbs and gutters, at the intersection of Main Street and Third Street and extending north on Third Street. City Engineer Earl Coffey said the city has requested the state Transportation Department increase the T21 grant by just under $1 million so work can be done on the downtown electrical and lighting system, as well as streetscape elements on Main Street all the way from First Street to Fifth Street and extending one block in either direction on each side street. In addition to potentially burying some electrical lines, the work would mean new street lights, traffic lights, pedestrian signals, outlets for municipal service and replacement of old ground lights which have become a safety concern.
Interim City Manager Ron Scott said the changes could improve safety in the area, a major selling point regardless of the circumstances, but especially with the town expecting thousands of visitors and lots of vehicle and pedestrian traffic for the debate.
Scott said he and Coffey made their appeal directly to state officials, who appeared to understand the importance of timing for the project.
“We are still hopeful we could get word this week,” Scott said.
The current streetscape plan outlines downtown projects that would be completed in segments, including the Third Street project. However, the additional money could allow the city to move forward with many of the projects at the same time.
The work would be done by a design-build process, meaning the design phase will be going on while parts of the project are under construction. Coffey said the request for proposals is already drawn up and ready to go.
“Once we find out, we could probably proceed as quickly as the commission wants to,” Coffey said.