DOT sidewalk project could wrap next week

The sidewalk project currently underway in Whiteville is federally funded and being managed by the NCDOT.

While all eyes are on the U.S. 701 widening project, a different transportation project will soon make things easier for pedestrians and disabled people to make their way through Whiteville.

Sidewalks along Madison, Lee, Jefferson, Washington and Lee streets are being resurfaced, replaced and regraded with wheelchair compatible ramps throughout much of downtown, uptown and past the hospital. The $1.2 million project has been underway for weeks.

Andrew Barksdale of the Department of Transportation said the project is being paid for through federal funds.

“We’re glad we have federal funds available to help improve pedestrian access and make it easier and safer for the disabled to also use these sidewalks,” he said.

Much of the downtown area is complete, City Manager Darren Currie said.

“This was really a big boost for the city,” he explained. “The downtown streetscape will be a completely different project, but this goes a long way toward improving our sidewalk network.”

Whiteville has 16 miles of sidewalks, Currie said, but the maintenance and repair budget for sidewalks is only $60,000 per year.

“At $200 a yard, it doesn’t go very far,” Currie said.

Barksdale said each NCDOT division was allocated federal money to upgrade handicap ramps and sidewalks to meet current ADA guidelines for both wheelchair accessibility and the visually impaired.  In addition to  the ramp modifications, the program also allows the repair of sidewalk, improving the slopes of the sidewalks within ADA specifications and connecting short sections where there is no sidewalk.

“We found a lot of areas in need of repair as well as slopes that were out of specification due to antiquated driveways / sidewalks,” Barksdale said. “We were able to work with property owners and either eliminate driveways or modernize the driveways to allow the sidewalk to be re-installed at the correct grades.”

 Madison Street and much of Lee Street are complete, Barksdale said. Crews are currently working east on Jefferson Street to Spivey Road. They will then then will return toward uptown on the west side to finish that section of Jefferson and Washington.

 The sidewalks along U.S. 701 Bypass are not part of this project, Barksdale explained. The upcoming improvements to U.S. 701 will replace all of those sidewalks as part of the widening project.

That project includes five miles of widening from Pleasant Plains to U.S. 74-76. A raised median and limited access intersections will be installed, along with signalized crosswalks at Columbus Street, Burkhead Street, Washington Street, and Smyrna Road. 

Bids will be let in February for a portion of the U.S. 701 project.

About Jefferson Weaver 1973 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].