Major traffic changes set downtown -- Building demolition will start on Monday

    Some major changes in traffic patterns will be seen in downtown Decatur starting Monday, as Fleming Excavating begins the task of demolishing the former Dwayne's Sweeper Shop/Holthouse Drug Co. building.
    Traffic will not be allowed in the half block of Second St. from Monroe St. south to the first alley, and the half block of Second St. from Monroe St. north to the first alley.
    That, of course, means that traffic traveling on Monroe St. will not be able to turn onto Second St.
    The right lane of Monroe St. for eastbound traffic will be blocked off as it will be adjacent to the construction site. That will leave just two lanes of traffic; eastbound traffic will use what is now the center lane. Westbound traffic will remain in its usual lane.
    The alleys off Second St. which are half a block north and south of Monroe St. will remain open to allow people to get reasonably close to the businesses which will be closed to traffic,Mayor John Schultz said.
    Also closed will the alley along the east side of City Hall. Many people use it to pay bills via a City Hall drop box. The city will, however, install a temporary box behind City Hall which may be used for the same purpose.
    Sidewalks in the area of the construction zone also will be closed, "and we're encouraging everyone to keep a safe distance," Street/Saniation Superintendent Jeremy Gilbert said at this week's city council meeting.
    He also noted that the traffic light on the corner on which the building stands will have to be removed.
    The traffic changes are expected to be in effect approximately 10 days, through November 21. If all goes well, the demolition will then be at a point where the traffic restrictions can be removed.
    Continued demolition work and removing the debris will likely continue until close to Christmas.
    The building, once a major part of a vibrant downtown, fell on hard times in the past 10 to 15 years and had become a major eyesore, full of asbestos and mold.
    The city purchased the building from Dwayne Skaggs of Bluffton for $25,000 earlier this year, then paid Air Management Techniques of Muncie $2,100 for asbestos removal.
    Fleming Excavating was awarded the demolition contract with a low bid of some $145,000.