Four months after deadly explosion, Sun Prairie city leaders, businesses celebrate grand reopening
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Four months after a deadly explosion ripped apart the city’s downtown, Sun Prairie is ready to reopen.
Wednesday afternoon, the town will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting to symbolize the end of its downtown Main Street reconstruction project.
Sun Prairie City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer said it’s impressive the downtown is holding this celebration now, especially since everything that’s been rebuilt is a permanent replacement.
The city had the option of doing a temporary fix just to get the area open through winter and then reconstruct everything next year. But they opted to make a permanent fix, instead of having to close the area twice.
Oppenheimer said a lot of the damage happened to utility lines under the streets, so crews had to safely remove rubble that contained asbestos and lead paint before work could even begin.
While downtown businesses are ready to welcome customers, the road that runs through Main Street isn’t completely finished yet. The intersection of Main and Bristol is still closed to traffic. The Wisconsin DOT has until Dec. 1 to finish that project. All that needs to be done is installing traffic signals and painting lines on the road, so they’re in the final stage. Oppenheimer expects that work to be completed before that.
Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser said he is excited to welcome people back to his town to celebrate the reopening of all businesses on Main Street.
“It has been a long four months since the explosion and fire on July 10, 2018,” Esser told News 3, exclusively. “The Sun Prairie community has pulled together to support our firefighters, police, and EMS after their difficult experiences. We have demonstrated what a resilient community we are, and I am so proud of that.”
“The reopening of the highway shows that we are moving on as a community. But as we move on, we are committed to remembering firefighter Capt. Cory Barr who lost his life that evening. His wife and twin daughters remain firmly in our hearts.”
“Governor Walker committed to me the day after the explosion and the weekend afterward at Cory’s funeral that the road would get repaired as quickly as possible. The governor has been as good as his word.”
Gov. Scott Walker has been invited to attend the ribbon cutting. The ceremony starts at 3:30 p.m., with the ribbon cutting happening just after 4 p.m. on the 100 block of Main Street.
More than $500,000 in disaster relief funds have been dispersed to displaced residents and affected businesses. Additional donations have been donated to first responders.
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