MASON CITY, Iowa - A steam tunnel that once provided heat to businesses in downtown Mason City will soon be removed.
On Wednesday, McKiness Excavating began saw cutting pavement on Commercial Alley between 3rd Street NE and 1st Street NE. After holes are cut, crews will begin to remove asbestos from pipes within the tunnel, with the tunnel and the remaining pavement to be removed after. Phase 1 of the 3-phase project, which will run from 3rd Street NE to the north side of 1st Street NE, will begin construction Monday.
The project is needed in order for Alliant Energy to move overhead electric lines underground, as part of a larger modernization project.
However, parts of the alley will be closed during certain construction activities.
Eric Follmuth owns Splash Multisport & Custom, which is adjacent to the alley, and sits in the Phase 1 area of the project. The alley provides access to a garage where he stores trailers that he uses to haul merchandise. He says the project will provide some logistics challenges when he is getting product loaded up.
"For us to get our trailers in and out, every Friday and then back again on Sunday or Monday, is going to impact our ability to load the trailers, get all of our products in the trailers, pulling in pulling out."
He adds that because of space limitations with nearby parking lots and streets, he isn't able to park his trailers there.
"It's going to be interesting to see where am I going to park, how am I going to hand deliver these items to the trailers, that's going to be a challenge I'm going to have to deal with, on top of climbing over snowbanks and sub-zero weather."
According to the City of Mason City Engineering Department, the Phase 1 portion of the project is expected to be under construction for about 4-6 weeks. The project itself is expected to be completed by mid-March.
In a statement, Alliant Energy says that, "Our contractor on this job is reaching out to the businesses along the alley to talk about the project so we can make an effort to minimize the impact on their business."