WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - This time last year, everyone thought they’d seen the last St. Patrick’s Day celebration at The Dubliner.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation told the owners they would purchase the land The Dubliner sits on to make way for major road construction at the intersection of Carolina Beach Road, Burnett Blvd., and Front Street.
The plan is to widen the intersection and add medians from Carolina Beach Road to Shipyard Boulevard to make it safer and improve traffic flow.
“If you look at the crash numbers, there’s a lot of what we call angle crashes, which is really more of like your t-bone type crash which is usually somebody pulling out in front of someone and getting hit. Those are the ones where you usually have your injuries and sometimes even fatalities. What the median does is it limits some of that access from the side streets, some of that access from some of the businesses so that people aren’t pulling out and getting hit,” said David Leonard, NCDOT project engineer.
But the state still doesn’t have the funding to purchase the land.
While The Dubliner is open again this St. Patrick’s Day, it’s been a frustrating topic.
“It’s been going on for three years. So it’s one day we’re open, next day, well we’re going to be closing in a week. Then I get used to that, then I acclimate all the customers, ‘Hey, we’re going to be closing in a week.’ Then that week goes by and I’m like, ‘Hey, it’s going to be three months.’ And then those three months go by and then it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be three more months.’ So it’s like getting to the end of the road and then we’ve got three more miles to go,” said Rob Potts, manager of The Dubliner.
The Dubliner has been part of this community for more than two decades.
“This place was started because the owner was Irish. He moved over here and wanted, I think it was ’95, and he couldn’t a good Guiness anywhere in town, so he built his own bar," Potts said.
The Dubliner is just one of several businesses waiting for the state to come in and purchase the land needed for the road project.
Han-Dee Hugo’s, J.T. Lee & Sons Inc., Roy’s Carburetor & Tune-Up Services, Reynolds Paint & Body Shop, and Performance Cycles of Wilmington all are being impacted.
“They did an appraisal, so we got the appraisal. It was never shared with me, but right around the time the appraisals came through, they said we are going to put the project on pause,” said Joe Petersen, owner of Performance Cycles of Wilmington.
The state recently got approval to continue design work for the project but that’s all they have the funding for right now.
“We have recently been re-initiated for design work early this year so we’re able to continue our design work early this year so we’re able to continue finalizing our public utilities easements along the corridor but at this point, we’re not cleared to proceed with right-of-way acquisition or construction. We have people in Raleigh working hard to re-initiate projects as soon as we fiscally can but at this point, we are not certain when that will be,” said Leonard.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s just like someone saying they’re going to buy your house and you’re all prepared to move and, ‘Ya we’re going to make the offer. We’re going to make the offer,’ so it’s very frustrating as a business owner. We’re definitely going to move but it’s tough to go shopping when you don’t know what your budget is so again we’re just waiting for DOT to come by and make us an offer and at least we’d know where we’re gonna, where we can be,” said Petersen.
Leonard says it’s frustrating for the DOT as well and they plan to do everything they can to make this project a smooth transition for everyone.
“We try to take care of people who we do impact and we try to give them as much time to relocate as we can and that’s something that our right of way agents can work with them on, but we hope at the end of all this we have a great project for the area cause it is a great area,” he said.
“The business relocation process involves a large time period so that they have plenty of time to be able to relocate their business. Typically, we take in to account 15-18 months typically for a business relocation which gives them plenty of time to find a new location.”
In the meantime, The Dubliner is planning its biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration yet. There’s a big event with several bands and food planned for Saturday, March 14.
Then another event planned for St. Patrick’s Day Tuesday, March 17