Cologne 2020 project 1.JPG

Construction shot from earlier this summer in downtown Cologne (Al Lohman/The Patriot)

Three of four phases in Cologne’s major downtown infrastructure project should be substantially complete this year, with remaining work to be done in 2021.

That’s the report the Cologne city council heard at its Sept. 21 meeting from Jake Saulsbury, project manager with engineering firm Bolton & Menk.

The nearly $6 million project involves the reconstruction of most streets and utilities in the older portion of town. The project is being accomplished in four phases working south to north.

Some initial construction delays occurred due the pandemic, according to Saulsbury, with CenterPoint Energy not doing utility relocate work during the state’s shelter in place order and some construction items not being manufactured during the period. However, progress has occurred more quickly in subsequent phases, he said.

As of late September, phases 1 and 2 were largely complete, according to the council report. Phase 1 includes Louis Street and all streets south. Phase 2 includes all streets north of Louis Street to the railroad tracks.

Phase 3 encompasses all streets north of the railroad tracks to Lake Street/County Road 36, and Phase 4 includes all downtown streets north of Lake, excluding Church Street.

In Phase 3, watermain and sanitary sewer work is complete, with street grading, curb and gutter installation and paving anticipated to occur in October. Phase 4 work is just underway, including removal of old pavement and the beginning of utility installation, Saulsbury said. Only a portion of that construction is expected to occur in 2020 – Edward Avenue, Park Street east of Adams, and Adams Avenue south of Park Street.

“They have made some really good progress,” said City Administrator Jesse Dickson. “If not for some early setbacks due to COVID, I think we would have had the project done this year.

As it stands now, the project is expected to wrap up in 2021, although construction is expected to continue this year until weather prohibits further concrete or paving work.

In other business at its Sept. 21 meeting, the council approved Cologne’s 2021 preliminary tax levy and general fund budget. Council authorized a preliminary general fund budget of almost $1.3 million and a total tax levy of just over $1.5 million, which includes expenses for special equipment purchases and projects like the street reconstruction.

The 2021 tax levy represents an $87,792, or 6.08 percent increase in the local tax levy over 2020.

Meanwhile, the city’s community and fitness center, damaged in a fire earlier this year, are almost back to normal, Dickson reported. A new floor will be installed in the fitness center this week and equipment is anticipated on Oct. 12. The center is expected to reopen Oct. 19.

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