Ismael Carillo Jr. and Leonel Barragan grabbed one of the mosaic tiles and shoved it into the jiggly, wet concrete as they installed the first mosaic in the sidewalk of Lodi Avenue on Friday morning.
In the streets, the workers used paving machines to finish the final details in the first phase of a project to renovate one of Lodi's main streets.
The new street includes smooth pavement, sidewalks with brick pavers at intersections and crosswalks, decorative concrete and street lights.
Granite Construction, the city-hired contractor, plans to secure the mosaics by pressing them into the concrete and then mortaring around them, said Gary Wiman, construction manager for the city.
The 24 mosaics were designed by residents who submitted them to Project Lodi Art, a community-wide effort overseen by the city's Arts Commission to get people involved in art projects. About 200 volunteers then helped create the mosaics.
Wiman said the project is a couple days behind schedule because of rain and some unknown storm drain issues that construction crews encountered. The finished portion of Lodi Avenue between the railroad tracks and Washington Street will reopen to traffic on Monday. At the same time, the city will close Lodi Avenue between Washington and Garfield streets.
Federal stimulus money is funding a majority of the $2.5 million project, which spans from the railroad tracks to Cherokee Lane. It is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 26.
Because the construction has shut down the entire street, businesses have tried to reach out to customers to let them know they are still open.
About 15 to 20 people have called Good Year Tokay Tire to ask the best way to get to the shop during construction, said Chuck Henderson, the service manager of Good Year Tokay Tire Inc. Still, the shop has lost about 10 to 15 percent of its customers.
He hopes removing the railroad tracks will make the road smoother.
"I've been here 19 years, and it's always been a rough road," Henderson said. "Most people, no matter where they live, come down Lodi Avenue."
The Music Box has seen an even larger decline in customers. Owner Evelyn Olson, who bought the business in 1974, said that even before construction began she had noticed a decline in customers because of the economy and schools canceling beginner band classes.
"We really got a triple whammy," Olson said. "Hopefully, we'll recover. You pray a lot."
Employee Rick Duncan estimates there has been a 50-percent decline in sales. He said the project will be a benefit to the city, but has really harmed the businesses.
"We have a huge amount of money to try and recover. There's a deficit in the checkbook," he said.
Even though it has been a struggle, Olson said watching the actual construction has been interesting. She often talks with the construction workers, and said she has learned more about the process of putting in a street.
Part of the project is to remove old railroad tracks that were paved over. Olson even saved some of the railroad spikes the workers pulled out of the street.
"We hope this street out here turns into everything Lodi wants it to be," she said.