New Road Construction In Downtown Durham, Same Old Headaches | News
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New Road Construction In Downtown Durham, Same Old Headaches

Posted by on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Seems like Durham only has two seasons these days: Festival season and road construction season. But really, road construction season is all-year-long. And if you spend a lot of time in central downtown, the headaches are going to continue through the rest of the month. 

On Saturday, deputy city manager Keith Chadwell sent and email to the city council outlining work that will be happening over the weekends this month in an already stressed section of the city, described as "a small spate fo road and infrastructure repairs" near Mangum, Parrish, and Main streets. 

"The work involves the restoration of the street intersections on the Mangum Street intersections already named resulting from upgrades to the water system, the repair of a sidewalk and underground vault directly in front of the NCIMED Building on W. Parrish Street, and the repaving of City Parking Lot #8 at the end of the first block on E. Parrish Street," Chadwell's email read. "This comes at a time when this vicinity, especially on W. Parrish Street, is otherwise challenged by the construction activity associated with the City Center and Jack Tar Motel projects." 

The repairs will require for concrete to cure for more than twenty-four hours, which means vehicle traffic could be restricted during those time periods.

"A decision was made by City staff to block traffic on Mangum at the City Hall Plaza intersection. This would mean that traffic could not enter W. Parrish Street. To accomplish this, a schedule was created that calls for work to begin on each Friday at 5:00 p.m. (subsequently moved to 7:00 p.m.), and to have the streets back opened at 7:00 a.m. on the following Monday. This was to be followed commencing Friday, September 30th, and on the two successive weekends. Please note that due to the weather on today (October 8, all work has been postponed. Weather permitting, the work will proceed on October 14 and 21," his email continued. 

So, what about West Parrish Street which has already been hit by road closures from the construction of both One City Center (aka the pit) and the Jack Tar Motel? Well, sidewalk and vault repair was scheduled and the repairs around NCIMED involves concretes pours where there is still only one-lane of traffic, and that would also require a street closure. 

"Therefore, this work was scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on the Fridays of the first and third weekends through the follow[ing] Mondays at 7:00 a.m.," the email reads. 

Chadwell's email continues:

The staff wants you to know that these events have not proceeded without an understanding of the impacts to the public in general, especially to the businesses. Please know that for all aspects of downtown construction, protocols have been established with stakeholder input for routine and advanced communications, and  to provide updates on the long-term projects as well as “unusual” occurrences of the type being experienced this month.

When projects cause escalating public impacts, in addition to appropriate notifications, the staff is committed to take aggressive mitigating actions. During the intersection and Parrish Street sidewalk repairs, E. Parrish Street was and will be closed. Detours and related signage were created in an attempt to alert the public that the businesses were open, and to provide signage to direct the free use of the Chapel Hill deck, along with pedestrian directional signage from the deck to the businesses. A protocol was likewise created so that businesses could move materials in and out of the area during the closure. This kind of effort will be provided throughout the area as these projects advance through the end of October.

However, the road hasn't been helping businesses that are in the heart of the city. SevenStar Cycles on West Parrish Street had recently sent an email to city council member Don Moffitt outlining some concerns. 

The store had figured out a way to help maintain access even with street closures, but now with the NCIMED project, it's a bit more difficult. 

"We aren't sure how we can better convey this to the City and how we can actually get communication from the various departments or City administration, but we are about at our wits end with this. Our business is seriously hurting because of all of these impacts — and to be fair, most of the problems recently have been due to the City rather than the development project on the block," the email to Moffitt says. 


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