The city of Two Rivers stands out as a place that takes ownership in its future. When the main downtown street, WIS 42, was scheduled for reconstruction in 2005, community members took a strong interest in the project that was to shape their town for decades to come.
WIS 42 runs through the heart of Two Rivers on Washington Street. The 0.5-mile section set for reconstruction would impact the main business district. The $7.2 million project involved grading, replacing water, storm and sewer lines, adding new sidewalks and traffic signal, and landscaping. It would take seven months to complete and would close traffic access. With so much at stake, it was important for the community to be proactive.
Long before construction began, the "Washington Street Design Committee" was formed, consisting of members from the downtown business association, city council members, and representatives from the city including police and fire personnel. This committee met monthly for two years before construction started. They discussed everything from basic design to construction processes.
Every detail from what types of trees to plant to directional signs for businesses was covered. Along the way, there were many public meetings and city council meetings about the project, all which were well attended. Through these meetings, the project designers were able to incorporate the community's desires for a project that captured the city's historical feel while keeping within the project's budget and time frame.
When the first equipment rolled on site in February 2005, the town was ready. Businesses had arranged to have back door access, and while the street was closed to traffic, temporary sidewalks were always open. Signs were posted to let customers know the stores were open, and gave directions to parking. Neighboring businesses also helped by offering their parking lots to Washington Street business employees in order to free up the closest parking for customers. There were also "Block Captains" who received weekly updates from the construction manager on what would be going on that week.
With so much planning and preparation, the project had no major problems and was completed ahead of schedule in September 2005. This allowed the downtown to host their annual sidewalk sale, which was a great way for the community to experience the finished project as well as energize the business district.