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Boneyard project could back up traffic

URBANA -- You've might have already heard them yourself; the sounds of construction season are upon us.
URBANA -- You've might have already heard them yourself; the sounds of construction season are upon us. Two major projects are giving the town a fresh look. Crews got started on the multimillion dollar Boneyard Creek Improvement Project this week.

"They're driving the piers for the foundation of the new bridge," said engineer Brad Bennett. "It's moving along pretty quickly."

But traffic in the area isn't. Race Street is closed and part of University Avenue was squeezed into one lane.

"We appreciate the public's patience. We know it's a major inconvenience for the duration of the project," he said.

But it's what's necessary to turn an area often ignored by the public into one the city hopes people can't resist.

"We're going to have a eight-foot-wide multi-use path on the south side of the creek that'll allow people to come down off of street level," Bennett described. "We're going to have some public gathering spaces and some nice grass open areas with some shade trees. I'm happy to say that we'll be adding a left turn lane that will improve the efficiency of that intersection."

But before crews build that new look, they'll spend months destroying the old one.

"The bridge that we're replacing here we tore out was built back in 1954," he said. "The last big improvements that was done to it were back in the 70's when they put the sheet piling in."

There won't always be this much construction going on, but it will last a while. The project is expected to wrap up in June of 2014.

"I think in the long-term it's worth it. I mean people maybe only have to go just one or two blocks to get around it, it'll be worth it," said Brian Clark of St. Joseph.

Besides improving Boneyard Creek, crews are widening the sidewalks along Broadway Avenue to match the rest of downtown. They'll also be adding new streetlights and bike lanes.

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