Heritage Center

A poster with a rendering of the future Equal Rights Heritage Center in downtown Auburn is displayed for an announcement about the project. 

AUBURN — Roadwork begins today in preparation for the city of Auburn's $10 million Equal Rights Heritage Center, commonly known as the welcome center. 

The center is slated to open this October with an I Love NY Equal Rights Heritage Tourism Promotion Center, a Taste NY Market and a local Auburn and Cayuga County tourism center.

The city said the 25 South St. parking lot will close permanently at 11 p.m. Sunday, Feb 4. Prior to that, construction will begin on Lincoln and William streets, which Auburn City Clerk Chuck Mason said will ultimately be two-lane roads.

Here's the traffic changes you can expect starting Tuesday, Jan. 30 through Thursday, Feb. 1:

• The intersection of Lincoln Street and William Street will be closed for the three days. There will be no through traffic on William Street.

• The 25 South St. parking lot will still be accessible, though a portion will be closed for construction vehicles. The parking garage will also be open. Vehicles will need to enter and exit Lincoln Street from the South Street (Route 34) side. 

• The driveway for Westminster Presbyterian Church will be closed.

• There will be no through traffic on William Street. Traveling from the south, William Street traffic will detour on Westlake Avenue to Fort Street to Genesee Street. Traveling from the north, William Street at Genesee Street to Lincoln Street will be open to local traffic only. 

• Centro bus service will continue.

On Sunday, Feb. 4, the city will close the 25 South St. parking lot and construction will begin on the heritage center. Mason said a fence will be installed around the perimeter of the parking lot likely on Feb. 5.

Here are some traffic changes people can expect after Feb. 4:

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• The parking garage will remain accessible from Lincoln Street. The city reminded customers that parking is free for two hours on the inside and top floors, and parking permits are available.

• A new three-way stop with stop signs will be installed at the intersection of Lincoln Street and William Street to replace the existing curved road. 

• A new pedestrian crossing will be installed connecting the north side of William Street to the city's parking garage.

• Sidewalks around the construction site will be restricted, and pedestrians will be directed to use sidewalks on the other sides of streets. 

• Centro bus service will continue on Lincoln Street until further notice. 

Mason said every two weeks the city will put out a "construction forecast," to update residents. More road or lane closures may occur as construction vehicles move in and out of the site.

The city, he added, is working individually with Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Auburn YMCA and the Seward House on ways to handle the construction. For example, Mason said, the city is going to hire a crossing guard for the new pedestrian crossing during morning and afternoon drop-off hours for the various preschool programs. 

About six different contractors will be mobilizing the site in the upcoming weeks. The city will begin taking out its stoplights and parking kiosks, too. Mason said concrete for the center's foundation could be poured at the end of February. 

"This is all going to happen fast and furiously," he said.

For regular updates about the center and parking, visit auburnny.gov/welcomecenter or auburnny.gov/parking

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Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.