Due to the high amounts of construction coming to Ann Arbor in the next few months, pedestrians may have to think of some creative paths to get to their destinations.

Paul Wong
Abbot Construction employee Francisco Vargas directs traffic on East Liberty Street due to the construction.

State Street area construction began in March and will continue throughout the summer in phases to add improvements, including new streetlights, sidewalks, trees and bike racks. Maynard, East Liberty and East William streets, as well as the south side of North University Avenue and the west side of State, are anticipated to be finished by mid-July – just in time for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, which begins July 17.

“There is just construction everywhere,” Washtenaw Community College freshman Rebecca Owin said, who added that construction makes driving through Ann Arbor longer and brings unexpected delays.

Susan Pollay, director of the Downtown Development Authority, said construction is being done one block at a time. “Each block should take three to four weeks to be completed,” she said. No businesses will be blocked at any point during the construction, she added.

Vice President of Students Affairs E. Royster Harper said the construction is taking place during the summer to disrupt as few students as possible.

“Construction is a temporary inconvenience that brings convenience later on,” she said.

But Education junior Amber Guess said the appearance of the city may have an effect on potential University students visiting this summer.

“The construction causes the campus and city appearances to be temporarily less aesthetically pleasing, especially to visiting new students,” Guess said.

Despite inconveniences during construction, the renovations to the area will make the downtown area safer and brighter, Pollay said. “One of the best parts of this project is the lighting scheme, which is designed to make it feel comfortable and safe,” she said. There will be additional lighting 24 hours a day in the State Street area after the project is complete.

The first construction project to begin was at Maynard Street between East William and East Liberty.

Matthew Kelly, a vendor at Hot Dogs on the Run located at the corner of Maynard and East Liberty, said business at the stand has been cut in half. “The construction is noisy, it’s dirty,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s got to be done.”

The next phase of construction will be work on the south side of East Liberty and is expected to be finished by early next month. Construction on the south side of North University from State to Thayer Street is expected to be completed by mid-June.

The last project to be finished before the art fairs begin will be work on the south side of East William. According to the State Street Area Association’s phasing plan and schedule for 2002-2003, there will be a break in construction during the fair. Construction will pick up again in the third week of July on the north side of East William.

The State Street area project will continue with construction on the west side of State beginning in the third week of August. Jeff More, owner of Ashley’s restaurant on the corner of State and North University, said the eatery will have to use a temporary wooden plank as a walkway to the door during construction.

“It will more than make up for it by having a nicer area once the project is fully completed,” More added.

Improvements to the State Street area will continue throughout next school year and are expected to be completed by Summer 2003.

The DDA is also working with the University to improve the corner of North University and State Street near the entrance to the Diag, where they will add a bus shelter and new seating areas.

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