State Street is set to reopen on Friday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of State Street and Grand Avenue.

After roughly two months of construction, State Street is set to reopen.

The 300 block of State Street, as well as the intersection of State Street and Grand Avenue, is scheduled to be reopened to traffic Friday — almost three weeks ahead of schedule.

To celebrate the occasion, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of State Street and Grand Avenue. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside Bushel and Peck’s. Parking is available in the Mill Street and Broad Street parking lots.

“We’re really excited it’s opening early,” City Engineer Mike Flesch said. “It looks awesome. It’s such a different appearance than what it was. It’s so much more pedestrian-friendly.”

The $796,000 project replaced the asphalt pavement with brick pavement from Broad Street to the East Grand Avenue intersection and realigned the intersection with “curb bump-outs.” This traffic control device forces drivers to slow down as they make the right turn from Grand Avenue onto State Street and also shortens the length of the crosswalk so it won’t take pedestrians as long to cross the street.

“I’m amazed how nice it looks,” said Rod Gottfredsen, owner of Austin’s Barber Shop, as he stood on the sidewalk outside his business at 316 State St. on Monday surveying the work. “The (construction workers) have been relentless. They’ve really worked hard.”

Flesch said the contractor, Rock Road Companies of Janesville, received an additional $30,000 for finishing the project early as part of an incentive clause. There was also an equal disincentive clause for completing after the date. The project was set to be completed June 3, which would’ve been the Friday before the first Farmers Market. Construction started March 7.

“We are very excited about it being done early,” Flesch said. “It’s such a boon for the community and the businesses down there to be able to have access back in time before the major spring events occur.”

For example, State Street will be open in time for ArtWalk on May 20, Fridays in the Park beginning May 27, the Memorial Day Parade, and the Farmers Market beginning June 4.

Flesh also said he’s pleased businesses can return to their normal operations.

“It looks beautiful,” said Jackie Gennett, co-owner of Bushel and Peck’s, 328 State St. “It’s really good news they’re ahead of schedule. It’s going to be a great summer for downtown Beloit.”

She and John Stanton, owner of Stanton Shoes, say the construction has not impacted their businesses as customers have been entering from the back entrances and parking in the Mill and Broad street parking lots.

Lee, who owns Beauty Town, 319 State St., said he believes it will take a while for customers to return once the street is re-opened.

“(Business) has been damaged too much,” he said. “It’s almost none.”

To draw back customers, Lee said he thinks city officials should advertise with the outlying communities to let them know State Street is reopened.

Gottfredsen said the two-month street closure hasn’t affected his business too much, but he knows it has others.

“I’m glad it’s reopening, but others will be happier,” he said.

Before the project is completed, Flesch said pavement marking and restoration needs to be done and the light poles need to be painted.

The traffic signals will be installed in mid- to late June, and temporary stop signs at the State and Grand intersection will be used until then.

Also sometime before the end of the construction season in November, Flesch said a gantry will be installed at the southwest corner of State and Grand. This two-story open frame structure is meant to establish a “sense of place” and to be considered a defining landmark for Beloit.

The budget for the gantry is $250,000. Previous bids came in over budget, but bids will be going out again soon. The gantry will be funded through TIF #5 in the CIP budget, which is also what funded the reconstruction project.