“They are mobilizing today,” said city manager John Connet. “They are supposed to start this week.”
The city of Clinton’s Downtown Revitalization Project Phase III, the initial designs and project ordinance for which were adopted by City Council in 2008, was delayed indefinitely in 2009 due to the downturn in the economy. Last year, the Council approved moving ahead with the project.
Overall, the revitalization project includes widening of sidewalks, relocation of utility lines underground and resurfacing of streets, all in an effort to improve the appearance of downtown and make it more inviting, city officials have said. The project will encompass the old jail site, and extend down Vance Street from Sampson to Beaman streets, as well as include all of Connesstee Street, from College Street to Vance Street. As part of the project, an enclosure for dumpsters on Connesstee Street and a retaining wall to eliminate erosion at the old jail site will be constructed.
The Wooten Company did the designs for the project, and Paul Howard Construction Company will be responsible for the work.
According to the approved project costs presented to the Council last month, Phase III totals $1,601,237. The project is being paid for from $1 million in USDA loan money, $455,000 in USDA grant funds and $146,237 from the city ($105,092 from the General Fund, $41,145 from the Water and Sewer Fund).
A conversion of Sycamore Street is scheduled to occur sometime in the coming weeks after being approved by the City Council in January.
Sycamore Street, located just off the courthouse square but previously accessible only by way of Chestnut Street, would become less elusive following a DOT recommendation and a City Council vote in January to make it a two-way street with a decreased speed limit for a 60-day trial basis.
Several residents and business owners in the area have said the conversion from a one-way street going from Chestnut to Fayetteville to a two-way street would make for more orderly traffic flow and improved accessibility. The conversion would also make the street less dangerous and alleviate problems with wrong-way traffic, they said.
The conversion will be done around DOT’s schedule and Connet was informed recently the time table for work, to include re-striping and additional signs, would be late this month at the earliest.
“The Sycamore Street conversion is progressing, however, it will be probably be late March before DOT is ready to make the changes to intersection,” Connet said. “I think it would be a fairly short process once they start.”
In other matters, the city was previously contacted by DOT about converting the intersection of Wall and Elizabeth streets from a signalized intersection to a four-way stop intersection.
A 16-hour traffic count analysis was conducted in 2009 at the intersection to monitor traffic volumes. The study found the traffic signal was “highly unwarranted,” DOT officials said.
“The count was well below the threshold,” Ben Hughes, assistant division traffic engineer for DOT’s Division 3, said last year. “The volume is not enough to warrant a traffic signal. You can multiply (the traffic count) by five, it’s still not enough.”
Hughes suggested stop signs for the four-way intersection. A possible 30-day trial period was discussed, during which temporary stop signs could be utilized. However, Connet expressed apprehension with losing the traffic light, fearing once taken away, the light would not be brought back.
While city support is not required for DOT to move forward with such a project, DOT requested a resolution of support from the Council. The city did not oblige.
This week, Connet said he had heard nothing more about the issue from state officials.
“It’s not broke, so we’re not fixing it,” the city manager said.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.