Fences encircled the historic intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue as construction for the renovation of Toomer’s Corner began Monday, May 11.
City and University officials and members of the Downtown Merchants Association attended a groundbreaking ceremony held in the middle of the intersection at 10:30 a.m.
The ceremony included an appearance by Aubie wearing a hard hat and posing with a jackhammer.
Anabell, the Stamp dog, rests in the shade of a large Caterpillar tractor on the initial groundbreaking day for construction work on Toomer's Corner in Downtown Auburn on May 11, 2015. (David Topper | Photographer)
Mayor Bill Ham said the improvements will not only be a plus for the community, but also help the shops downtown.
“We had a tragedy that started here, but we’re fixing to turn it into a great thing,” Ham said.
The intersection will remained closed until early August, when construction is scheduled to be completed.
Eric Stamp, president of the Downtown Merchants Association and owner of Stamp Customer Design and Print Shop, said the lack of traffic will be the biggest problem, but added there will be plenty of parking.
The Auburn City Council voted to allow free parking downtown during the summer at their meeting May 5.
“We just need to encourage people to utilize the (municipal parking) deck,” Stamp said. “Everyone in Auburn who has lived here and wanted to drive up in there and park for years. Now it’s all available, so hopefully everyone will take advantage of that.”
The work will coincide with second phase of the University's Samford Park renovation.
Stamp said the benefits of the project outweigh the temporary setbacks during the summer.
“This is a once in a lifetime reconstruction and renovation, and its time was forced by the poisoning of the trees,” Stamp said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a good time, a three months' downtime, to stuff in some construction, so it has to be now.”