After months of construction, the underground utility work and aboveground streetscape improvements on South Main Street are essentially complete.
The Town of Smyrna held a ribbon cutting on Monday morning to mark the culmination of the project.
Town residents gathered at the former Smyrna School District Administrative Office on South Main as public officials and local representatives offered their remarks.
“It’s finally done, except for a few punch list items,” said Smyrna Town Manager Dave Hugg.
“Doesn’t the street look great with no wires over it?” he added, drawing applause from the crowd of onlookers.
Hugg thanked the engineers, construction workers and town staff who worked on the project.
He also thanked the residents and businesses in the downtown area.
“You all put up with the dust and noise and congestion,” Hugg said. “I appreciate you hanging in there with us.”
Mayor Pat Stombaugh noted the length of time that Smyrna has been discussing improvements to the downtown area.
“Since the ’80s, this project has really been trying to get done,” she said.
Stombaugh also thanked the downtown residents and businesses.
“It was the first time we did this, so lessons were learned,” she said. “I just want to thank everyone for making this possible.”
DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks said the downtown improvements will bring increased pedestrian safety while providing an attractive look to the downtown.
“I commend the town for the vision, and all who helped to make this day possible,” said 14th District Senator Bruce Ennis, of Smyrna.
“What a beautiful day we have here in Smyrna,” said 28th District Representative Bill Carson. “We have our newly completed streetscape project, and in the background, the Smyrna Opera House. I don’t think it gets much better than that.”
“Above all, I’d like to thank the residents and community members and businesses for all they’ve been through,” Carson added.
After the ceremony, Hugg said were still finishing up the installation of the new traffic signal at the Four Corners intersection.
Some minor work also remains, including the addition of some street signs and benches.
Temporary trees have been put in place on South Main Street, but they will later be replaced with new ones, Hugg said.
Downtown residents, business owners
comment on streetscape project
Ron and Ellen Sayers of Sayers’ Jewelers & Gemologists, at 19 South Main Street, are pleased with the outcome of the streetscape project.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Mr. Sayers. “It’s a great thing for the Town of Smyrna. It’s a tremendous improvement in appearance.
“Everything that’s happened – the opera house, the medical center, the streetscape project – everything’s a plus,” he said.
“I think if you’re a resident of Smyrna – whether you live downtown or in the country – you should be proud of your downtown,” Mrs. Sayers added.
“They’ve done an excellent job,” she said. “We’re very happy, very proud of our town.”
Jim Wolfe, a resident of North Main Street, said he’s looking forward to seeing the same downtown improvements on his block.
“We’re looking forward to phase four, when it comes along,” he said.
Downtown utility and streetscape projects have also been planned for East and West Commerce Street and North Main Street, extending a block in each direction from the Four Corners. But no funding is currently in place for those phases of the project.
Larry and Mary Koehler, owners of Koehler’s Timeless Treasures at the Four Corners intersection, are also pleased with the result of the streetscape project.
“I think it’s great – long awaited,” said Mr. Koehler. “I hope we can get funding for the remaining three parts.”
“I think they’ve done an excellent job, and they’ve stayed right on time,” said Mrs. Koehler.
Maria Newill, president of the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association, shared that sentiment.
“I think the inconvenience was well worth the wait, and I’m anxious to see it expand to other parts of the town,” she said.
“I think they’ve done a wonderful job,” said Brian Brown, owner of Smyrna Sporting Goods at the Corner of Main and Commerce, prior to Monday’s ribbon cutting.
Brown said the construction didn’t hurt his business at all.
“We’re a destination,” he said. “They’re going to come no matter what.”
Brown, who was born and raised in Smyrna and has lived here almost his entire life, said he was glad to finally see improvements in the downtown area.
“It’s well needed, well deserved,” he said. “It should give everybody a pride boost.”
But Brown doubts the streetscape improvements will bring in more foot traffic to downtown Smyrna.
“Sidewalks aren’t going to draw people,” he said. “I think you need to go professional – lawyers, doctors, things that don’t need foot traffic.”
“I think the construction companies have worked diligently,” Brown added. “I think they did a marvelous job. It spruced the area up.”
“I’m glad it’s done,” said Melaine Minear, owner of The Mainstay Bed and Breakfast. “It’s been a long seven months.”
“What I had hoped – and I guess expected – was that there would have been more communication,” she said.
Minear also wishes the existing trees on South Main Street would have been protected.
“I will say the construction people were wonderful, especially Sam’s Construction,” she added. “I know working at night was difficult for them.”
Looking forward, Minear said she hopes there will be a reconsideration of the plans for downtown in order to support retail businesses.
Final costs for the downtown project
• Utility improvements – about $1.1 million
• Streetscape improvements – about $1.2 million, including about $993,000 in funding from the Federal Highway Administration through DelDOT’s Transportation Enhancement program
• Total cost – about $2.3 million