After more than a year of work – almost four months longer than originally anticipated – downtown streetscape construction on South Academy Street and surrounding roads is expected to be substantially complete by Oct. 1.
At that time, the sidewalks and roadways will be fully open to traffic, but minor work and repairs will remain. Trees and other plants won’t be installed until cooler temperatures arrive, according to town staff.
“We should have traffic in its final configuration,” said Kyle Hubert, the town’s transportation engineering supervisor.
The $8 million project, which began in June last year, was originally expected to be done by June 1, but inclement weather, particularly during this past winter, and difficulties with existing utilities slowed down the process.
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But Bob Shultes, a town engineer, and Hubert said construction has sped up within the last few months because the roadways have been paved and most of the underground utility work has been completed.
“The site is more manageable, now that it has been paved from one end to the other, and that has helped accelerate the work,” Shultes said. “The project is not as subjective to weather.”
Many segments of roads and sidewalks have been opened to traffic during that time.
South Academy Street from Park Street to Dry Avenue is open to two-way traffic. Traffic flow still is one-way, northbound from Park Street to Chatham Street. Roadway paving and curb and gutter continue to be installed on the west side of Academy Street, north of Park Street.
“People can see the progress, versus it being underground, where you can’t really see what’s happening,” Hubert said, comparing ongoing work with past work on underground utilities.
Both east and west Park Street also are open. Pedestrians can access the sidewalk on South Academy Street on the east side from Dry Avenue to Waldo Street and on the west side from Waldo Street to Chatham Street.
Most of the work in the intersection of Academy and Chatham streets has been completed, but there still could be an intersection closure at night or on a Saturday, Hubert said.
All businesses on Academy and Chatham streets will remain open during construction, which will widen sidewalks and add public art and benches to one of downtown’s main thoroughfares.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon