This January, construction will start on the “Second Street Streetscape Project,” which will include renovations to Second Street to make it more beneficial for pedestrians and businesses alike, city officials said.

On Nov. 22, the Pikeville City Commission awarded a bid to H2O Construction Company, Inc. for $653,003.40, to begin construction on the project. Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick said that the “Second Street Streetscape Project” began with the completion of the new plaza located outside the Appalachian Center for the Arts, and the next phase of the project will include working on Second Street itself, from Division Street to Caroline Avenue.

“What will happen is that the street will kind of meander, so instead of being a straight street down Second as it is now, there will be some curves in it,” Elswick said. “Really, that’s a common measure to ensure that traffic slows down in that area. It makes it more pedestrian-friendly. It makes it more inviting to people in that area. They feel safer walking along the streets on the sidewalks.”

The project will include the removal of the asphalt and replacing it with brick pavers that are similar to that of the plaza outside the App. Also, there will be several park-lit areas that will “bump out” from the sidewalk.

“It’s a little bigger area meant for seating and some vegetation, landscaping and things like that,” he said. “It’s designed to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and more aesthetically pleasing.”

Also, Elswick added, there will be the installation of bollards on both ends of the street — at the intersection of Division Street and the intersection with Caroline Avenue — which will allow the city to close off those specific portions of the street for events, like street markets, night markets, festivals, etc.

The project will start in early January, and Elswick said that he hopes for the project to be completed by the Hillbilly Days Festival, which is scheduled for April 21-23, 2022. However, he said that any storms or other hazardous weather conditions that occur during that time may cause delays to the current schedule.

While the construction is happening, all parking along Second Street, from Division Street to Caroline Avenue, will be inaccessible. Therefore, anyone who typically parks along Second Street in that area will need to utilize parking in the lot behind the App, in any spaces along Hambley Boulevard, in the city’s parking garage or by the Riverfill.

However, Elswick said that the sidewalks will remain open during that period in order to facilitate pedestrian traffic.

“We will ensure that the sidewalks remain open at all times so access to the businesses located along Second Street will always be available. We’ve made certain the contractor understands that the side walks must remain open to facilitate pedestrian traffic,” Elswick said. “We will also be placing signs through the downtown area that indicate that the sidewalks are open and kind of gives direction to how to get to the businesses along Second Street. We want to minimize our impact to those businesses as much as possible.”

The project, he said, is connected to the city’s desire to transform that section of downtown into a creative arts district, which is part of the city’s plan to boost tourism and promote economic development.

“This area of town — the Second Street corridor and the Division Street area —  is part of the area that we’re focused on transforming into a kind of a creative arts district,” he said. “With the location of the App there, there’s ‘You, Me & Pottery’ there, ’The Shoppes at 225,’ ‘Rustic Roots’ is there, ‘Appcycled,’ all of those businesses and locations lend themselves into being part of this creative arts district. The commission believes that the arts has a very significant impact on economic development. We’re focused on that area for transforming it into an arts district and making it a focal point of our tourism and our economic development.”