Shawn Juffs with Goldcliff Enterprises works on the LED lights on the gateway poles along Bernard Avenue near Richter Street on Tuesday.
Vehicle lanes have been reduced from four to two between Richter and St. Paul streets, and the look of the main downtown avenue has been enhanced with dozens of trees, wider sidewalks, and distinctive wood-and-steel gateway poles.
"It's looking really nice, the way that part of the street is coming together," said Ryan Abougoush of the Grateful Fed restaurant.
"All this work has impacted our business for sure, but now I'm glad we've sort of been the ice-breaker and this section of the work is wrapping up," Abougoush said.
The first phase of the revitalization project, which also involves the replacement of aging underground utility lines, began in late summer. That portion of Bernard was blocked to traffic, but sidewalks remained open in a bid to limit the economic loss suffered by merchants.
After the Christmas season, the phased street enhancement project will resume. Plans are for installation of a major new storm drain at Kerry Park next to the Sails.
"In late January or February, depending on the weather, we'll close Bernard to traffic between Abbott Street and Pandosy Street, and start ripping and digging up the road," said Bill Berry, the city's director of design and construction services.
After water and sewer lines are replaced, the look of the avenue will be similarly enhanced with wider sidewalks, additional trees, street furniture, and public art.
Plans are to have that section of Bernard completed and re-opened to traffic by mid-June, in time for the start of the busy summertime tourist season.
By narrowing the roadway and widening the sidewalks, the city hopes to create a much more pedestrian-friendly shopping environment along Bernard Avenue.
"We're starting to perform a heart transplant here on Bernard," Mayor Walter Gray said when the revitalization work got underway in late August. "What was just a road is going to be a destination."
With work proceeding in sections along Bernard, the entire project is slated for completion in the spring of 2014.