Preparation continues for McGregor Main Street project

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


Preparation continues for McGregor’s 2023 Main Street reconstruction project.


At the Nov. 16 council meeting, the city shared an update from Davy Engineering detailing the status of the Front Street lift station schedule as well as the archeological and historical/architectural surveys conducted this summer.


Kelly Dewatering, a subcontractor for lift station contractor Boomerang Corp., was on site last week to set up dewatering equipment. Once fully operational, excavation of the lift station site and installation of a force main will begin the last week of November or first week of December, according to a report from Davy.


Completion of the Front Street lift station and corresponding force main this winter will pave the way for work to begin on phase 1 of the Main Street project in the spring. That work includes water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer utility upgrades and full reconstruction of Main Street.


Davy said reports completed by Tallgrass Archaeology for the Phase 1 Archaeological Survey and Intensive and Reconnaissance Level Historical/Architectural Survey for Main Street have been submitted to the Iowa State Revolving Fund (SRF) and State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for review and comment.


The Main Street project was originally set to begin this year, with phase 1 from River Street to B Street, followed by phase II from B Street to Buell Avenue the year after. However, delays in approval from SHPO halted work until 2023 and 2024. The surveys were among the requirements from the agency to assure the identification of potential effects on archeological and/or historical sites and mitigation techniques to lessen the risk of potential impacts.


According to Davy Engineering, 120 subsurface tests were excavated along the project area corridor this summer. Forty-three tests produced either historic or prehistoric artifacts and were grouped into one of three archeological sites.


“Two of the three locations, they have already determined they’ve been violated enough that there’s no significant reason to hold up progress. But there’s another site that will require a little more work,” said McGregor Mayor Lyle Troester.


This site on the 300 block of Main Street, within the phase II 2024 portion of the project, was listed as “recommend for avoidance or phase II investigation,” according to the Davy report.


A summary from Tallgrass Archaeology said the site represents a turn-of-the-century urban midden, or refuse heap, related to a nearby cobbler shop and sparse prehistoric scatter. “The prehistoric assemblage is represented by a single non-diagnostic flake.” The historic assemblage “is constituted by 420 artifacts, of which 221 are leather fragments likely produced from the nearby cobbler shop.”


The summary further stated the site could provide data “necessary to address pertinent research questions about the National Register of Historic Places-listed McGregor Commercial Historic District, turn of the twentieth century cobbling, or turn of the twentieth century commerce in general.” Tallgrass recommended the site be considered unevaluated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, and advocated for avoidance or phase II evaluation.


“Before moving forward with any sort of phase II survey work, Tallgrass has stated we must wait for review and comment on the reports by SHPO,” said Davy Engineering.


Project manager Alex Jaromin with Davy Engineering is now working to separate phase 1 of the Main Street project from phase II to get SHPO’s approval, said McGregor deputy city clerk/economic development lead Brandi Crozier. 


“So then they could just get phase 1’s approval, then they can worry about phase II while they’re working on phase 1,” she explained.


Troester called the process scary. 


“It’s not automatic that the project can start,” he said. Steps have been underway since this summer, “and you think it’s going to be a breeze to start in March. [Jaromin] is already prodding them that time is starting to get a little short.”

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