The yearslong reconstruction of 300 West is running a few months behind schedule after a series of setbacks.
Why it matters: Delays could frustrate shoppers along the city’s major big-box corridor — and heighten tension between longtime local businesses and advocates who want to make the area safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
- 300 West has long been a nightmare for non-motorists, with no bike lanes and inconsistent sidewalks forcing bikes, pedestrians and even wheelchairs into the multilane street.
- But the massive construction project has hurt some businesses, whose owners have gotten exasperated with the project.
The latest: The main setback this year has been a widespread concrete shortage, compounded by an equipment problem at the project’s specific supplier, Adams said.
- The amount of available concrete has dropped from about five trucks a day to just one.
- Crews are using the mix to finish curbs and gutters because that’s necessary to pave the lanes — but that means delays for the bike lanes and sidewalks.
State of play: Construction had already experienced several weeks of setbacks in 2021 due to a combination of problems, project spokesperson Stacee Adams told Axios.
- A gas tank leaked underground at some point in the past, near 2100 South. It took five to six weeks to remove and replace the contaminated soil.
- Some aging city utility lines required extra repairs, and other utilities like phone and internet needed extra time to make updates. Those delays were brief, but they added up.
- Crews also had to periodically take time off to quarantine or recover from COVID-19.
Meanwhile: Crews also are trying to figure out how to avoid a repeat of last summer’s snarl at the intersection of 300 West and 1300 South, Adams said.
- While excavating the west lanes in 2021, crews discovered the road was built on top of an earlier road, which required an extra layer of excavation and made it more difficult to dig around utility lines.
- That added about 10 days to the total construction time and unexpectedly forced crews to close whole sections of the busy intersection for weeks, causing traffic jams lasting 45 minutes or more.
- The same problem lurks below the east lanes of the intersection, which are being rebuilt this year. Adams said crews are exploring other ways to approach the traffic closures.
What they’re saying: “We know that last year was hard,” Adams said. “We saw that, and we are doing everything we can not to repeat that level of impact to the drivers and to the businesses in that area.”
- Yes, but: Measures that would make traffic jams less severe may also mean that construction takes a bit longer, Adams acknowledged.
The big picture: 300 West has transitioned decisively from industrial to retail since the road was built more than 50 years ago.
- The roughly 2-mile construction area is now home to Target, Walmart, Costco and other big-box retailers as well as fast-food and casual restaurants.
- Hundreds of new apartments and condos are being developed on the nearby side streets, further changing the neighborhood and drawing more foot traffic.
What’s next: Traffic closures likely will persist until November or December — about two months longer than the city expected, transportation director Jon Larsen told Axios.
The bottom line: For now, crews hope to have traffic fully open by the winter holidays this year, and finish landscaping and other details in early spring 2023.
- Bike lanes and sidewalks may take longer than the vehicle lanes due to the concrete shortage.
- But long stretches are already finished, and cyclists are beginning to use them, Larsen said.