DOT discusses plans to rebuild downtown Sun Prairie

posted by iHeartMedia Madison News - 

SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is promising a speedy reconstruction of the downtown streets that were damaged in the deadly explosion on July 10th. The plans come as a breath of fresh air for business owners who are trying to return to sense of normalcy around their shops.

"It looks in tact," said Shannon Jambard as she walked into her bead shop to survey the damage for the first time. 

Her business, Meant to Bead, is on the corner of Columbus St. and East Main St. in Sun Prairie. Jambard was just about to lock up after evacuating her building when the blast happened. 

"You could feel it and you could see the walls warp," she said. 

A parking lot separates the building she rents from the Barr House, which is completely gone since the blast. 

As she walked through her store, her emotions ran high. 

"Seeing it again makes it hard," she said as she wiped away tears. "I mean the biggest thing is stuff on the floor, that's it. We're pretty good."

Her building seems to have been spared from significant damage. Some of her merchandise is scattered around the floor of her shop and the exit sign is missing from the wall. 

"I feel lucky," said Jambard. 

Now, she and other business owners are ready to move forward. 

"We need those basic needs to run and get our business up," she said as she talked about parts of Main Street being reconstructed. 

Jambard, along with dozens of other business owners and citizens, went to a meeting at City Hall Thursday where DOT officials discussed the preliminary plans in place to reconstruct the damaged streets. 

"This project is not a design project. This project is to restore the road service and get it back to functioning," said Wisconsin DOT Secretary Dave Ross. 

Ross said the project would begin as soon as the area is cleared of debris. As of Thursday night, the explosion site was still the scene of an active criminal investigation. Sun Prairie's city administrator said the investigation could be finished as early as the end of Friday. 

Once it is and the scene is cleaned up, the DOT plans to move in quickly. 

"It's really important that we get them back on their feet as quickly as possible," added Ross. 

The DOT doesn't have a timetable for the construction yet, as they haven't been able to gain access to the destroyed roads. After evaluating the damage under the surface and the surrounding areas, they believe it should only take a couple of months to get Main Street and Bristol Street back to normal. 

"We want to make sure people are coming in and out of this community just like it was before," Ross said. 

The priority the state is giving the project is a blessing for Jambard and other business owners. 

"I'm happy with the result that I saw tonight that it's going to stay the way we had it," Jambard said. 

DOT officials say they plan to rebuild what Sun Prairie already had, with possibly some improvements being considered but without large changes. 

An estimated cost hasn't been put together yet, but the state will cover the expense since it's a state highway that goes through town. 

It's an all hands on deck approach that Jambard is applauding. 

"I'm happy with what I heard," she said. 

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