Mayor Steve Tumlin, who in general is pleased with the finished portion from the Square to Fairground Street, said weather has slowed construction on the latest segment.
“We’ve seen good results on every street we have improved,” Tumlin said.
The part now under construction is from Dodd Street to Cobb Parkway, a $9.5 million project paid for with 2005 special purpose local option sales tax funds, city engineer Jim Wilgus said.
When finished, the upgrade will look similar to the $14.6 million sidewalk enhancements, lighting and landscaping that were done between the Square and Fairground Street, Wilgus said.
The latest round will offer an additional feature, a landscaped median that will extend from Dodd Street to Cobb Parkway, which Wilgus believes will improve driver and pedestrian safety.
Although the latest development is less than a quarter-mile stretch, from Dodd Street to Cobb Parkway, drivers have been navigating the tight space between large orange barriers multiple times a week.
Los Reyes Mexican restaurant, at 1018 Roswell St., right in the middle of the construction zone, is noticing a decline in the lunchtime crowd, said Alfonso Reyes, who has been a manager at the restaurant for 14 years.
Reyes said he has noticed a definite drop-off in his lunchtime business. He thinks the decrease is because people only have a certain amount of time for lunch breaks and cannot wait through construction delays.
Los Reyes is a family owned business that has been at the same location for 20 years. Reyes said he hopes that after the road has been widened it will bring more traffic by the business.
Councilman Philip Goldstein believes traffic will move much more smoothly through the area. The improvements will also open up opportunities for redevelopment at the Cobb Parkway intersection.
A year ago, the city approved zoning changes for Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank to build a branch office on a vacant lot across the street from the Big Chicken next to the Mansour Center.
The city is still waiting for the bank to request a building permit, said Brian Binzer, the city’s development services director.
The city has skipped a portion of Roswell Road, from Victory Drive to Dodd Street, that is in the project’s budget and part of the overall plans for the road improvement.
This portion was held back because of disputes between the city and the 9,000-member Roswell Street Baptist Church, which sits on that block at 774 Roswell St.
The city wanted to take part of the 70-year-old church’s property to widen the road, which would have eliminated a swath of parking spaces the church owns and uses.
Rounds of negotiations came to a standstill, and fears of condemnation caused an uprising by the church’s congregation at a November City Council meeting.
City and church officials have been in mediation ever since.
City Attorney Doug Haynie said he could not comment on the ongoing talks.
Tumlin said he believes the dispute will have a resolution soon.
“We’ve got to make them happy before we go forward,” Tumlin said.
The Rev. Ernest Easley, senior pastor of the church, said the continuing construction on Roswell Street is far enough down the road now that there is not much impact on the church’s activities, especially on Sundays.
Easley said improvements to the corridor are a positive development for Marietta, but wishes “it would have been a little easier to come to terms.”