By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL Mo. -- Merchant concern has caused the city of Hannibal to halt the North Main Street sidewalk project midpour.
City Manager Jeff LaGarce said Bleigh Construction employees have already poured 15-20 feet of the sidewalk on the second block on the west side of Main Street. The new sidewalk design features a step up, and shopkeepers, such as Jim Thompson at Mrs. Clemens Antique Mall have spoken out against the design. Thompson said he's afraid this sidewalk will pose a liability to him and a danger to his customers.
"Some of the property owners are concerned about that design as far as people tripping and that sort of things," LaGarce said. "We're going to see if there's another way to take care of this."
City Engineer Mark Rees said this design has eased the steep slope that once lined the street. While merchants have expressed concern, the new design complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The sidewalk was quite a bit steeper, and they don't allow them to build them like that anymore," Rees said.
The city has stalled the project until after a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 in the City Council chambers. Rees said shop owners and citizens may voice concerns about the project, and ideally, a solution can be reached. Merchants have anticipated this project for more than 15 years, and Rees hopes the final result meets shopkeepers' expectations.
"I'd kind of like to have it done right," Rees said. "We don't want to create any kind of hazardous situation. We want that sidewalk to be functional safe."
The city has arranged to have all involved parties at the meeting on Monday. City officials along with the Missouri Department of Transportation, Architechnics, MECO Engineering and Bleigh Construction will answer merchant questions about the project.
"That is the only common sense thing to do," Rees said. "I'm doing this project for (the merchants)."
Rees hopes construction may continue after Monday night's meeting, however, he said the issue may need to be brought before the City Council. In the meantime, the contractor has focused attention on completing the Startdust Drive extension project.
Rees anticipates the Stardust project will open on Monday.