Jessica Wakefield has to cross West Tyvola Road every day to check her mailbox, which was wedged between a cement truck and a giant dirt hole Tuesday afternoon.
But in a few weeks, Wakefield’s mailbox should no longer sit in the middle of a construction zone.
“By the end of June, we think we should have the sidewalk opened to the public,” said Troy Eisenberger, project manager for the West Tyvola Road sidewalk project.
“You know the story. It was right down there,” Wakefield said, pointing from her front yard to the intersection of West Tyvola Road and Shady Lane where a Sears delivery truck struck two young boys and their father in 2012. “I don’t even like being over there to check my mail. This is such a country little road.”
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Wakefield moved to West Tyvola Road just after Kadrien Pendergrass and his brother Jeremy Brewton were killed walking along the side of the road to their day care center from their west Charlotte home. Their father survived.
“It puts a little relief in me that they started, but I feel that they could do better,” Jeremy Brewton, the boys’ father, said. “I would love for it to be two sidewalks with one on the side where the truck hit me and my boys.”
Dirk Jerome Brown, the driver who hit Brewton and his sons, spent 120 days in jail after he was found guilty by a jury in May 2013 of two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle. He is now living in Charlotte.
In 2012, there were no sidewalks on either side of West Tyvola Road, despite various local school bus stops and the 35 mph speed limit. But where front yards once met the street, bright white concrete now stands out against red dirt, with just under three weeks left until the projected completion date.
“It should have been done a lot earlier,” Wakefield said. “But it’s coming along, and they’re here every day, so I’m glad to see the progress.”
On Tuesday, the last day of school for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, no fewer than four school buses drove down the street around 4 p.m. One of the buses made a stop on West Tyvola Road, and two boys hopped down the steps and ran across the street, dodging the construction crew.
The sidewalk is not yet completed at that bus stop. Farther down the street, the construction crew was smoothing out wet cement on the adjacent section, while others dug out the next.
Eisenberger said there are two main construction components left in the project: finish pouring the cement and build a retaining wall at the end of the walk by the Family Dollar.
Margaret Clark has lived on West Tyvola Road for seven years. She wasn’t home when Pendergrass and Brewton were killed, but she said she has been forced for years to walk along the side of the street.
“I would walk in the road every day since there was no sidewalk, but the traffic here is really heavy,” Clark said. “I’m glad we don’t have to walk in the street anymore.”
The project began in April after the City Council awarded funding to DOT Construction Inc. on Jan. 13 following two public meetings. The total cost of the project was $720,000. A full-time construction crew and inspector are on site every day, Eisenberger said. But with the sidewalk under construction for several weeks, residents have few options when it comes to getting around the neighborhood.
“People definitely still just walk in the street,” Wakefield said. “Kids, old people, all walks of life and ages walk through this street. It’ll be good to have the sidewalk done.”
Though he has since moved, Brewton still goes back once a week to keep up a memorial for his sons at the intersection of West Tyvola Road and Shady Lane. He makes sure the teddy bears and stuffed animals stay with the two wooden crosses draped with flowers. And though the animals’ fur is matted and the flowers have lost their hue, they have remained untouched by the nearby construction crew.