WORCESTER — The city plans to spend more than $8 million over the next two years to spruce up downtown sidewalks and create a more cohesive streetscape for the central business district.
City Manager Michael V. O’Brien said the work — scheduled to begin this spring — is a “critical public investment” intended to build on private investment in the downtown that already exist, is under way or is planned for the future.
He said some of the sidewalks that will be refurbished are more than 60 years old and are well beyond their useful life.
The manager added that other portions of the streetscape to be updated were completed 15 to 20 years ago with high maintenance materials, such as bricks and granite that are now failing.
At the same time, he said, wholesale sections of sidewalks downtown and on Main Street adjacent to those areas are in “declining, poor condition.”
“One does not have to be an expert in urban design to recognize we have a hodge-podge of lighting styles, streetscape treatments, sidewalks types, amenities, signage that does not lend itself whatsoever to a cohesive sense of place and to a walk-able, well-thought-out downtown urban environment,” Mr. O’Brien said.
“Look at any of the great, successful cities and you will find that they have created a sense of place and destination from a cohesive planned streetscape program,” he added. “It does not need costly granite to make this occur. It can be comprehensive, cohesive, and complimentary concrete sidewalks with scoring patterns to make them interesting and eye-catching.”
The project is broken down as follows:
• Streetscape improvements, $2.8 million.
This work will consist of replacing sidewalks with concrete walks at the following locations: Franklin Street (south side), from Main to Portland Street; Front Street (north side), Main to Commercial Street; Commercial Street (west side), Main to Foster Street; and Foster Street (both sides), Commercial to Main Street.
Robert L. Moylan Jr., commissioner of public works and parks, said the work will include the replacement of streetlights with ornamental lights that are consistent with those along Foster Street and Washington Square.
That work is scheduled to begin in May.