There will be no wintertime hibernation for construction work on the streets of downtown Prescott this year.
Wrapping up a year that saw the completion of more than $25 million worth of street and water-system projects, the city’s public works department is kicking off an ambitious winter construction schedule that will take in the cold-weather months of December, January, February and March.
On Tuesday, Nov. 27, the Prescott City Council awarded a $3.3 million contract to Asphalt Paving & Supply for reconstruction of key sections of Carleton and Cortez streets — set to begin in December.
And there is more to come. Prescott Public Works Director Craig Dotseth said the City Council is expected on Dec. 18 to consider awarding a contract on another major project — the long-awaited South Washington/Goodwin reconstruction.
Already in 2018, the public works department has completed just less than $26 million of street and water-system projects, said Construction Services Administrator Tim Sherwood.
For the entire 2019 fiscal year, which began in July 2018 and ends in June 2019, the city has $67 million worth of projects scheduled.
The Carleton/Cortez project is just the latest of a series of downtown-area projects that have included: reconstruction of the Bashford Courts parking lot and Willis/Cortez intersection; the Alarcon Street drainage project; and the still-ongoing Robinson Drive and North Washington projects.
Work on Carleton/South Cortez is scheduled to begin by about Dec. 10, and continue through early April.
Dotseth noted that the Carleton/Cortez construction was scheduled strategically to occur between two of Prescott’s busiest tourism times — the Christmas season, and the springtime biking and running events.
The project is set to begin just after the Dec. 7 Acker Night, and wrap up before the start of the Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike race on April 26, Dotseth said.
The reconstruction will take in Carleton Street from the Prescott Mile High Middle School entrance to Cortez Street, and Cortez Street from Carleton to Goodwin.
Noting that the Carleton-to-Cortez route is a popular detour route when special events close down other downtown streets, Dotseth and Sherwood say it is important that the project be completed during its scheduled time.
“The schedule is based around special events,” Dotseth said. He maintains that the schedule is realistic, pointing out that the four contractors who bid on the project were well aware of the possibility of inclement weather.
Still, Dotseth said, “One of the biggest challenges is going to be time timeframe.” Another will be the location, which is in the busy downtown area, Sherwood added.
A high-profile component of the Carleton reconstruction will be a crossing of Montezuma Street, involving new sewer drains, as well as water, sewer, and gas lines.
That work will require a full closure of Montezuma Street at times, Dotseth said, although the exact duration and times of the closures have yet to be determined.
During that portion of the project, Montezuma Street traffic will be detoured onto Cortez and Aubrey streets, Dotseth said. The work on Cortez Street will be scheduled so it will not conflict with the Montezuma Street closures, he added.
Dotseth and Sherwood say night work and/or 24-hour work has been discussed and are possibilities for the Montezuma Street crossing.
This year’s construction schedule has been significantly busier than in previous years, Dotseth said — in part because of direction from the City Council to complete some of the street improvements that have long been in the queue but have been delayed.
In December 2017, the council approved a plan to “right-size” the city’s planned street projects. That involved redesigning several pending street projects to remove aesthetic and underground-drainage features, and to bring down the costs.
The Carleton/Cortez reconstruction was among the scaled-back projects, Dotseth said, largely through removal of underground drainage and landscaping elements.
Dotseth acknowledges that his department has received complaints from residents about the large number of construction projects that have been underway at the same time. His response: “We’re sorry, but we have these projects in the budget.” He urges the public to “bear with us, and enjoy the completed projects.”