Work has begun on a $5million rehabilitation project designed to spruce up downtown Statesville.
Construction crews started by removing old asphalt from the southbound lane of North Center Street in front of the Statesville Civic Center.
City officials hope the Statesville Streetscape Project, when completed next year, will draw more people to downtown shopping venues.
A construction contract for the project was awarded in January to Maymead Materials, which made the lowest bid among seven companies, said Public Works Director Larry Pressley.
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On a recent weekday afternoon, crews from subcontractor Bell Construction of Statesville peeled about a foot of old asphalt off the southbound lane of Center Street in front of the Statesville Civic Center. It's the first step in rebuilding Center Street between Water and Sharpe streets, and then East Broad Street between Center and Tradd streets.
The project will include work underground - replacing aging water pipes and storm drains and installing new electrical lines - and above ground, building new streets, sidewalks, curbs and crosswalks.
New benches, tables and chairs, decorative lighting and plantings will greet pedestrians downtown. Working with the N.C. Department of Transportation, crews will install new traffic signals throughout downtown.
Pressley said some underground infrastructure is more than 70 years old.
The work will be confined to one side of each street whenever possible and will be performed in phases, to minimize disruption to merchants and keep traffic flowing. No work that could interfere with local businesses will be permitted Nov. 15-Jan. 1.
The city is using federal Recovery Zone Bonds to finance the project. Recovery Zone Bonds are a new type of tax-exempt bonds created by the federal Stimulus Act. They are designed to finance business development in areas designated as having "significant economic distress."
A page on the city's website keeps residents and visitors up to date on the progress of the improvements: www.ci.statesville.nc.us.
Because of incorrect information provided to the Observer, an article in North Neighbors Feb. 6 cited the wrong organization as the source of a $45,000 grant to be used for improvements to Statesville's Abernathy Park. The grant came from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a program of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball worldwide.