Barriers were placed throughout the area Tuesday as a crew from Clements Dean Building Company began pushing up pavement near the local branch of First Bank of Jasper.
The Wilsonville-based company is in charge of realigning Main Street and constructing the new City Hall and police station.
Work is also proceeding as scheduled on the new Piggly Wiggly, which is expected to open later this year.
Mayor Drew Gilbert said citizens should expect traffic patterns through downtown to be disrupted through next July, the proposed end date for the road realignment and construction projects.
“It’s an inconvenience for a while, but this is absolutely a sign of recovery,” Gilbert said.
First Street, a common route through town for drivers coming in from the interstate on Cordova-Parrish Highway, is no longer accessible from Long Memorial United Methodist Church to the intersection of Burlington Avenue.
The preferred detour is a left on Green Avenue in front of the church and a right on Commerce Street, which runs parallel below the new ballfields.
Main Street will be shut down as well at various times as contractors extend the road through the old People’s Bank parking lot and tie it into First Street.
An important infrastructure improvement — installing culverts large enough to handle the stormwater that flows through downtown — is also part of the project.
The need to shift Main Street was first discussed during a design workshop held after the April 2011 tornadoes. The project was included in the Long Term Recovery Plan adopted by the Cordova City Council in December 2011.
“They discovered that we hurt our own economy by having our Main Street as a bypass. We could either bypass it on Commerce or First street easily. That doesn’t put vehicles in front of businesses,” Gilbert said. “We’re trying to fix a flaw in our design, and hopefully it is not just a piece of roadway but also becomes symbolic of the economy being a lot better in that downtown district than it was before.”
In December 2013, the city was awarded $3.7 million in federal funds for rebuilding and road improvements. The grant established a timeline of two years for the projects to be completed.
Construction on the grocery store began in April. That project is being funded by a $1.4 million tornado relief grant that was awarded in December 2012.
Gilbert said the summer of 2014 has long been circled on his calendar as the date that years of hard work by city officials would finally pay off.
“We apologize for an inconvenience in everyone’s daily commute, but we firmly believe that what we are doing right now is shaping the future face of Cordova in a grand way,” Gilbert said.