Local News

Durham Rising or Durham Undone?

Posted June 29, 2007 5:19 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2007 7:34 p.m. EDT

— Durham recently celebrated their new, $16 million downtown renovation with a blowout party.

It has been a week since the “Durham Rising” celebration, so why is driving downtown like making your way through an obstacle course?

From the giant potholes to the orange traffic cones, driving in downtown can be tough. Whether it's throwing your vehicle in reverse or taking the U-turn route, drivers are being thrown off course.

“You get up in here, then you have to turn around, or back out or whatever you have to do,” said driver Bobby O'Briant.

Crews have been working on the multi-million dollar streetscape for the past two years. The project was supposed to be finished in March, but weather and unexpected problems kept pushing back the date.

Bill Kalkoff, with Downtown Durham Inc., helped organize the Durham Rising celebration and said delays are inevitable with any project. But it made no sense to delay the party, he said.

“Certainly, there are some intersections that need completing. We've been up front about that,” he said. “When you're going to throw a party for 12,000 of your closest friends, you gotta pick a date!”

The party marked turning several one-way streets into two-way roads. By Friday, those were still one lane with all the construction. And this week, more intersections were blocked than ever.

“I know where my office is, but I don’t know how I’m going to get there,” driver Allen Mason said with a laugh.

Many of the dead ends will reopen in the next week or so, officials said, but the entire project won't be finished until August.

Kalkoff said one reason they chose to do so much of the intersection road work now is because they thought many people would be out of town for the Fourth of July holiday.