Front Street project wrapping up on one block, next block set to close this week

Front Street project wrapping up on one block, next block set to close this week
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Folks heading to Downtown Wilmington will notice some changes over the next few days as construction crews work to wrap up one half of a streetscape and utility project between Grace and Chestnut Streets. However, just one block south between Grace Street and Walnut Street, construction is set to begin and road closures are planned starting Wednesday.

But City of Wilmington Spokesman Dylan Lee says things are moving forward and the first block will be reopening soon.

“They are getting ready to make a major leap into the next block behind us here is a block in front of the cotton exchange between Grace street and Walnut Street. Demolition in that block will start tomorrow and the work will be wrapping up on the surface here in the first block,” he said.

Now construction crews are turning their attention to the next block, and road closures will happen soon.

“The fencing will go up as soon as the trees come down and that’s going to happen this week. So by the end of this week, Grace street will be open to cross traffic and the fencing will be in place here to keep people out of the streets and only in the sidewalks,” Lee said.

He said that although there were a few setbacks during the first half of construction, the next part should go smoother.

“We are on on track to finish in November. Granted, there were complications, we had some supply chain issues, and we had just the density of infrastructure beneath the ground that slowed things down. But things are moving well, the Grace Street intersection particularly was kind of the center of it. It’s the low spot of the project area so a lot of pipes come together here. And thankfully, that bit is complete and so this next block will not take as long as the first block,” Lee said.

The project has been a concern for businesses who say these closures affect their bottom-line. President of Wilmington’s Downtown Business Alliance Terry Espy said the organization came up with a plan to help. They offered businesses and customers a chance to win money each week to increase the traffic to these stores.

“We have doled out over $4000 dollars to date and I can tell you there’s probably been three thousand entries that we have on file,” Espy said.

She says with that many entries it shows that customers are making their way to the shops even during construction, even if traffic is slowing down.