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Asphalt covers the underground work recently completed on the 100 block of Tarboro Street in downtown Wilson, but merchants along the 200 block are preparing for headaches as construction starts this week.
Local Rustics by 2nd Look owner Bert Garris said the home decor shop at 207 Tarboro St. SW plans to close while work is underway.
Pam Jenkins at Downtown Boutique said the business plans to put up signs for parking in the grassy lot next to the store at 222 Tarboro St. W and use social media to get the word out that the shop’s open for business despite the construction headaches. Boutique wear for ladies and children is 30% off, and the shop has added several new lines of T-shirts, beach totes and jewelry to draw people in.
“This project will ensure Tarboro and Pine streets will meet the needs of our growing downtown,” said city of Wilson Public Works Director Bill Bass. “Before the two-way conversion, we need to upgrade any underground infrastructure, which is what we have focused on recently.”
Construction on the 100 block started in mid-May and while it was estimated to be complete by month’s end, crews finished Thursday. Bass said difficulty getting the asphalt needed to patch the street and weather complications led to the extended timeline for the 100 block project, but the work on the 200 block will take between two and three weeks.
“As with the 100 block, a road closure will be necessary, but every effort will be made to keep the sidewalk on the north side open,” said Rebecca Agner, Wilson’s communications and marketing director. “In the event a sidewalk closure is necessary, we will give as much notice as possible.”
The city is completing the infrastructure improvements on the state-maintained streets as part of a project to return Tarboro and Pine streets to two-way traffic. Once the work is finished, the state plans to resurface the roads and turn street maintenance responsibilities over to the city. Agner said the Wilson City Council plans to consider a resolution with the N.C. Department of Transportation regarding the next steps in the conversion during its Thursday meeting.
Jenkins said she’s eager to see the two-way traffic and hopes it will be safer.
“I don’t know how many crashes we’ve almost had in front of our door from people turning the wrong way,” she said. “Hopefully the change will make us more visible and easier for our customers, ’cause we’ve had people complain it is difficult to get to us because of the one-way street.”
Infrastructure improvements along Pine Street were completed earlier this year, and detours were not as apparent because the road has less traffic.
“At the end of the project, we will have two resurfaced downtown streets that will better meet the community’s needs for years to come,” Bass said.