Lebanon improving streets, infrastructure along courthouse square

LEBANON, Ind. – A several-month long project to improve and revitalize downtown Lebanon around the courthouse is underway. Phase one, which is a 75-day job on Main Street, or south of the courthouse, is scheduled to wrap up by the end of July.

The work, which started in May and will run this year until roughly November, costs roughly $9 million and comes with a variety of improvements.

"It’s about a $7 million project for the downtown side of it," said Lebanon Mayor Matthew Gentry. "Then there’s another $2 million project to bring the trail extension to the downtown."

The city's mayor said downtown hasn't seen this kind of improvements in 30 years. The area was due.

Kevin Krulik, the city's engineer, says other aspects of the work include adding space for businesses to provide outside dining and more space for the public to enjoy other outdoor events. It also includes reworking the surface to Main, Meridian and Washington Streets.

“It’s a complete re-construction," said Krulik. "We are replacing old asphalt streets. Asphalt that was on top of original brick. We are essentially restoring those, taking them back to a brick paved street.

Meridian Street is due to get worked on next, a 60-day project that should run in August and September. Washington Street will begin after that.

The city is limited to improvements it can make west of the courthouse on S.R. 39. It does have plans to rework the sidewalk and improve a wall on that side of the courthouse. It also includes a new traffic signal and street lighting.

Next year, the city has plans to do a similar resurfacing project on Main Street, west of S.R. 39.

The entire campaign is being called, "Embrace the Orange."

“The infrastructure below is probably 50 to 70 years old to so it’s starting to come to the end of its useful life. We’re also doing a lot of work to not only make it look more appealing down here, but also make it function better from an infrastructure standpoint as well.”

The road closure had worried business owners in the area. Even the mayor admitted that some businesses took a dip in sales when the work began.

Owners who spoke with FOX59 Thursday said they believe in the long-run, the work will actually improve business for the long haul.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of Greek’s Pizzerias where we’ve had downtown improvements going on and the store has always been more successful because of the improvements," said Lebanon Greek's Pizzeria owner Mike Cole. "I don’t think it will be any different in Lebanon. I think it’s going to look really nice and bring more people to the courthouse square."

The restaurant is set to have its road reopened by the end of the month.

When Samson Family Leather, which sells and repairs leather items such as belts, wallets and bags, noticed sales slipping, the owner decided to close shop and do his own renovations. He wants to have the work done near the same time the work outside is expected to be done. His road is scheduled to be finished by the end of September.

“It’ll be a new shop, new sidewalks, new street, a new, warm welcoming place," said owner Casey Samson. "It's almost going to be brand new."