The Front Street streetscape project promises a more pedestrian friendly downtown business district. City Council approved the contract for construction, with hopes that it’s done quickly.
“We need to do this as fast as we can. We want to make sure that when the project is over, the businesses that were there in the beginning can enjoy the beautification that happens at the end,” said Ron Sparks of Wilmington City Council.
Front Street will be completely torn up in phases by blocks. The first, beginning at Market and Front, and proceed north to the Princess Street intersection, finally ending at Chestnut Street.
The city will install new sidewalks, lights, and traffic signals, while the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority will install new water and sewer lines.
“I think this is going to be an exciting project. You do any kind of work in any kind of downtown area like that, in any city, you’re going to have some disruptions. I think a lot of it is just concerns of what’s going to happen down there,” said Wilmington Public Service Director Richard King.
The concern involves the effect on local business. City leaders have expressed the need for speed in these improvements, offering the contractor an incentive of $2,000 per day for finishing early.
Project leaders have also committed to monthly updates with business owners and a weekly meeting with the contractor to make sure the project stays on track.
The city also looked at making it a 24-hour a day, seven day a week project as opposed to just five, but that added 30 percent to the overall cost.