BRANSON, Mo. – Construction crews in Branson are racing against the clock to finish work on a busy intersection before the start of the 2017 tourist season.
Phase three of the “Downtown Streetscape” project covers the intersection of Main and Commercial, located in the heart of the downtown.
While the bulk of the construction work is happening at the intersection, roads – including the primary entrance into downtown – have been closed for a block in each direction.
“It’s [my husband’s] day off and my day off, and we thought we would come out,” says Verna Walker, who was one of the few tourists in downtown Wednesday.
“We figured some of the stores might still be open,” she says, “so we thought we’d just try it out.”
Some Branson businesses close this time of year, but some, like Ozark Quilts & More, keep their doors open throughout the year.
“We don’t do as much business [this time of year],” says Donna Mclin, with Ozark Quilts & More, “and of course with this construction, it is kind of putting a damper on [business], but we’re hoping for the best.”
Phase one of the “Downtown Streetscape” was completed last year but experienced several delays.
The city is using new construction teams on phase two, which will be a new plaza off of Veterans Boulevard, and on the intersection at phase three.
The new crews, at both locations, are expected to complete their respective projects on time.
“We’re going to enhance the sidewalks and put in new pavements, curbs, and gutters,” says project manager, Wayne Glenn, “we’ve got some irrigation going in and also landscaping. It’s going to be a nice feature to have.”
Glenn says drivers will regain access to the heart of downtown around March 15 – the sidewalks will remain open throughout the project.
Glenn’s team will continue working on phase three through May but it will be mostly above ground work that isn’t expected to significantly affect traffic.
“The infrastructure in the ground first, that’s got to be the number one thing,” he says, “and then we move on into the cosmetics.”
Until March rolls around, the stores that have remained open have a message for potential visitors.
“Don’t let [the construction] scare you,” says Mclin, “come on down here because we are open.”
During the project, parking for visitors will be available on both sides of the construction.