Downtown street closed for repairs

Published 11:16 am Thursday, July 9, 2015

ROAD CLOSED: The section of Washington Street from Clay to China streets will be closed for two to three starting July 9 for water and sewer line repairs.

ROAD CLOSED: The section of Washington Street from Clay to China streets will be closed for two to three starting July 9 for water and sewer line repairs.

Executive Director of Main Street Kim Hopkins made her way down the 1200 block of Washington Street Wednesday morning, letting store owners know the block would be closed to traffic for two to three weeks starting Thursday morning.

“I know they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t have to do it,” Norma Massey of Frederick’s said.

A water line is leaking under the brick lined street causing the bricks to sink. While the water manager surveyed the broken water line, a crack was found in the sewer line as well. They will repair both lines while the road is closed.

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The closure affects the area of Washington Street between China Street and Clay Street.

“While they’re in there fixing the water line, we’re going to make a repair on the sewer line,” Sewer Department Director Willie McCroy said. “But I don’t have a sewer leak there at all.”

The bricks are visibly caving in on the portion of street between The Dragonfly and Marcus Furniture. They aren’t sure yet how far up the block the repairs will take place.

The Dragonfly’s Shanon Shealy is glad they are making these repairs during the slow months of summer instead of during a holiday season.

“If they’re going to have to close the road down that may deter business opportunities, at least it’s during the slow months of the summer and not at a more critical time, during the holiday seasons or a more prime retail time,” Shealy said.

Thomas Jolly of Jolly’s Sometimes Store is concerned it could hit the businesses even harder since it is the slow period of the summer.

“The quicker they get done, the better off we’re going to be,” Jolly said.

Street Department Superintendent Skipper Whittington said they are going to have to take up the bricks and cut through the cement to fix the leak. Once the leak and crack are fixed they will have to lay down new cement and bricks. The total repair time should take two to three weeks depending on the weather and what they find once they start working.

Sam Thomas, the gallery director at the H.C. Porter Gallery, said they rent out the three-story building’s gallery, loft and the rooftop patio to guests for a place to stay or for hosting events.

“Hopefully, it won’t effect business,” Thomas said. “I think it will definitely effect the guests that are staying here because they won’t be able to park outside. That will be an inconvenience.”

Next week they have a couple from the Netherlands coming to stay there and she hopes the fact that it’s not as accessible won’t give them a bad impression.

“I’m sure that their stay will still be enjoyable despite the road construction,” Thomas said.

Merchants were unanimous in saying they hate it has to be done, but they understand it is necessary. They believe with parking still available on Clay Street and China Street, they will continue to have foot traffic. They are crossing their fingers for a quick fix.

“I understand it’s a necessity and it’s not really something they can help,” Massey said. “We’ll just hope and pray for fast repairs so we can get it taken care of. We don’t want our streets in disrepair.”

It’s not an ideal setup for Massey because she is outfitting children who are getting ready to go back to school and their parents could find the walk to be a hassle if they have more than one child.

“Naturally you want the people to be able to pull up with their kids and get out and not have to walk with them, especially if they have babies,” Massey said.

Storeowners were unaware of the closure before Hopkins’ visit even though the city had announced it via Facebook earlier Wednesday morning. The same block had to deal with a similar issue one or two years ago when a water line burst in just about the same location. All of the sidewalks and businesses plan to remain open throughout the repair.

“We just hope that they pardon the mess and the road closing and support the businesses during the construction,” Hopkins said.