At the Espresso Bueno Coffee shop in Barre, Owner Elizabeth Manriquez is happy to be hearing the cash register instead of heavy equipment outside her door.
"It's been hard because we've missed all of our fall traffic that would normally drive by and say, 'oh, a coffee shop,'" she said.
Construction on Barre's 'Big Dig' infrastructure renovation project kept all traffic off main street for the past year.
"Our merchants, on the average through this reconstruction project, they were down 30 percent and like I said in my opening remarks, they never complained once," said Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon. Lauzon proudly secured funding for the project Barre's been working to get off the ground for decades. "Look at me, I'm a broken down old guy now. I was a senior in high school when they first talked about this project," he said.
The 16 million dollar 'Big Dig' added parking spaces, updated street signs and most importantly replaced a 100 year old sewage transmission line beneath the city streets. Lauzon said they'd be in deep if the aging infrastructure hadn't been replaced. "If that line had failed we would've dumped 24 inches of raw sewage in our downtown in a matter of four hours," he said.
With traffic moving once again on Main Street, Lauzon said this is no time to rest, his next construction project is already in the Queue. "We want to push the regional bike path, which if you look what's going on in Vermont, this will be the first regional bike path -- We want to be the first," he said.
The state has also committed to moving the Department of Education to the proposed City Place downtown. A groundbreaking on site is expected in the coming weeks. "Look at the civic pride that this project is advancing," Lauzon said.
Manriquez, like others downtown, is just pleased to have her customers back -- and the clamor of construction behind her.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:22 PM EDT2013-05-22 03:22:19 GMT
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