Delays may spill into school year, but Central makeover finally 'real'

Delays may spill into school year, but Central makeover finally 'real'

To Anna LeGrande, the sight of construction work outside her daughter's high school has been a treat — even if it comes with traffic delays throughout August.

"I really wanted Central to stay Central, and I'm happy that they're finally getting going," she said. "It's real."

One need look no further than outside Central for proof that the long-awaited, four-year, $87.1 million extreme makeover of the high school is under way.

Workers have spent recent days digging up and relocating utility services — water, fire, electric and gas — in advance of the planned addition of a gym next spring.

Work by Illinois American Water and i3 Broadband will happen this week, said Unit 4 spokeswoman Emily Schmit, resulting in New Street being reduced to one lane "off and on" throughout August.

With classes starting a week from Thursday, access to Park Avenue could also be limited, meaning staffers may have to park on Lynn Street. But district officials are hopeful that most of the work won't happen at student pick-up and drop-off times.

Said LeGrande: "We're happy to work with the school and do whatever they want. I know there will be growing pains over the next three or so years, but I think it's going to be great for future students."

Meanwhile, demolition is pending on five properties near Central, including the Burnham Mansion. Once a Peoria company is done with salvage work, abatement crews will remove hazardous material in advance of the buildings coming down.

According to O'Shea Builders' schedule, this part of the Central project is expected to continue until October and cost Unit 4 no more than $340,000.