More than just a facelift, three coordinated construction projects are giving East Wheelock Street in front of the Hanover Inn and the Hopkins Center for the Arts a new look, as well as something new for the Hop itself.
The sidewalks will be larger and more graceful; pedestrian and automobile congestion in front of the Inn will be alleviated; outdoor dining will be expanded; a larger, improved shelter for bus riders will replace the existing structure in front of the Hop; and the Hop will get new windows.
“We’ll have the same sidewalk pattern all the way down the street from the Inn corner down East Wheelock Street to the Hop,” says Tim McNamara, Dartmouth’s associate director of real estate. “It will give us a consistent sidewalk in terms of the materials and design.”
McNamara says the Mobility Hub Project (the new bus stop) and the Hanover Inn streetscape project are part of an integrated design that employs the same architects and engineers. While the Inn and the Hop are Dartmouth projects, the Mobility Hub is a Town of Hanover-sponsored project with some federal funding.
The town will begin the East Wheelock Street Mobility Hub improvements on July 21 and the current bus stops will be temporarily relocated. Follow the link to a map of temporary bus stop locations for use while the project is under way.
“From the Town’s perspective, this project is all about facilitating the use of public transportation by area residents as well as ensuring safe crossing for pedestrians,“ says Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin. ”When the project is complete, bus riders will find a much more user-friendly bus stop and informational kiosk, and pedestrians will be able to cross more safely, with a pedestrian refuge in the middle of East Wheelock Street. And while we are working on the streetscape improvements, we will also be assisting Dartmouth with their project in front of the Inn.”
The porte-cochère, the portico-like structure at the front of the Hanover Inn, will be reconfigured. McNamara says the current single-lane passage creates maneuvering problems for the valet parking operations. The planned changes to the sidewalk and surrounding areas will effectively create two lanes as well as smoothing out the frost-heaved sections of sidewalk.
“At present, pedestrians walking down East Wheelock have to pass under the porte-cochère,” says McNamara. “We will relocate the sidewalk to the outside of the porte-cochère so that pedestrians will not conflict with cars and guests coming and going from the Inn.”
Moving the curb line out beyond the street’s current shoulder will also allow expansion of the Inn’s outdoor dining. Temporary dividers with planters will cordon off dining space that extends onto the sidewalk area. A trial run is planned for September.
A side benefit of this work will accrue to the trees along the street. “This provides us the opportunity to get in there and work with those trees, expand the tree grates, and improve the soil conditions around their roots to facilitate their ongoing health,” says McNamara.
Largely an energy issue, the Hopkins Center’s 50-year-old single-pane glass windows facing the Green will be replaced. This includes the large, round-topped windows on the front of the “Top of the Hop” and the large windows off the terrace to the right. “They will all look the same, but with increased energy efficiency,” says McNamara.