Local News

Much-needed improvements coming to downtown Fayetteville street

Posted December 28, 2009 7:47 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2009 7:58 p.m. EST

— After years of delays, work is set to begin next month on Russell Street, between Gillespie and Robeson streets, in downtown Fayetteville. The half-mile road is crisscrossed with railroad tracks and cloaked with potholes.

The street has been in rough shape for years, making it difficult for business owners to attract customers.

“It’s affecting our ability to lease our buildings,” said Tom Watkins, who owns Kornerstone Design Inc., near the corner off Russell and Winslow streets.

He has been trying to lease the building for months but said potential tenants keep asking when Russell Street will be repaired.

“We had a national company that wanted to sign a 10-year lease, but we cannot answer that question,” he said.

Watkins said businesses, especially retailers, don't want to be on such a shoddy street.

“It's like driving through an impact area,” business owner Hollis Peery said. “I drive it as little as possible.”

Peery owns Peery Property Management, near Russell Street. He said the rough-and-tumble street repels customers.

"(There’s) a lack of traffic up and down it because of the damage,” Peery said.

The speed limit on Russell Street is 35 mph, but people must drive much slower due to the road’s damage.

"It's probably the worst street in North Carolina, we believe anyway,” Mayor Tony Chavonne said.

Chavonne said the new year will bring a whole new look and feel to Russell Street, including a new cost of asphalt, brick-and-concrete sidewalks and new street lamps.

The mayor said the work would have been completed sooner, but repairs were delayed due to the economic recession and a corroded drainage system underground. In 2004, the DOT set aside money to repave Russell Street, but the cost of the project grew after engineers discovered the draining piping problems.

"Before, they just resurfaced (the road) and a few years later, you'd see the ruts again. This time, they're going all the way down, replacing the piping beneath the ground,” Chavonne said.

The city has since installed a new water line and moved the street’s power lines underground to help make the area more aesthetically pleasing.

“It’s just an expansion of our downtown historic district, and I think it will spur economic development as we get it done,” Chavonne said.

The state awarded Barnes Paving Company of Lumberton a $1.6 million contract for the road project this year. The company plans to begin the work in January, with repaving complete by Oct. 1.