John Clark is excited that Columbia has begun a reconstruction project to improve the dilapidated streets near downtown.
"It signals the city is investing in the neighborhoods and sends an enormous message to people, especially in areas where people may have felt neglected," said Clark, president of the North-Central Columbia Neighborhood Association.
The project includes the rebuilding of Sixth Street between Hickman Avenue and Wilkes Boulevard.
Sixth Street's new look will feature sidewalks on both sides of the street, curbs and gutters, and storm-water inlets. Beneath the surface, new 6-inch water mains will be installed. The undertaking, which will close the street to through traffic until it's finished this winter, will cost about $305,000.
Sixth Street is the latest of several roads targeted for reconstruction in the central city. Decisions about streets are based upon the age and status of the street and the money available to finish a project, said Roy Dudark, the city's planning director.
Many of the central-city street improvement projects are funded in part by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program. Columbia receives about $1 million each year for projects intended to benefit low- and moderate-income residents.
Columbia Public Works often uses part of the block grants to reconstruct streets that fall short of standards. For the Sixth Street project, $260,000 of block grant money was earmarked along with another $30,000 left over from the Third Avenue construction project. The rest of the money comes from the city.