At Monday’s regular Atchison City Commission meeting, commissioners were briefed on a project that will have an impact on business owners downtown.

Justin Pregont, director of public works and utilities, told commissioners work on the 800 Commercial Streetscape Project will also impact the 700 block of Commercial Street, and the project will be bigger than anticipated.

The project includes sidewalk, curb and gutter, sewer separation and relocation, bulb outs, lighting, benches and landscaping improvements. It’s the sewer separation and relocation which will impact the 700 block, though.

To make the separation and relocation, Kaaz Construction out of Leavenworth will have to dig a hole 30-feet deep in the 700 block. The work will close the street and parking, but not sidewalks, for about three to four weeks according to Pregont.

“I’m not ignorant to how disruptive that’s going to be (to businesses),” Pregont said.

He noted that while the businesses in the 800 block don’t rely on street parking and foot traffic much, the opposite is true for the businesses in the 700 block.

“Our intent … is to bend over backwards to be accommodating and understanding, and to help these people,” Pregont said. “Those front doors and those shops are their livelihood. Shutting down access and parking is something we don’t take lightly. (But) it’s something that has to be done.”

He said the city owns the parking lot located on Seventh Street between Commercial Street and Kansas Avenue and has plans to have heated, enclosed carts available to those who use the lot but are unable to walk to the shops they’d like to visit.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $1,055,037. The city was awarded a grant of $850,000 from the Kansas Department of Transportation Alternatives Program and has budgeted $225,000 for the local match required.

Adam Gardner can be reached at adam.gardner@npgco.com.

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