Fifth Street is expected to reopen towards the end of June, as construction continues on the Town Creek Culvert project, according to Director of Public Works Kevin Mulligan.
Construction on Fifth Street began in February and Reade Street has been closed off since the beginning of April, according to Mulligan. He said Reade Street is expected to be closed until the end of this year.
Town Creek Culvert construction is currently taking place in two locations, Mulligan said. There is a western sector located at Eighth Street and Washington Street and an eastern sector which is located at Fifth Street and Reade Street.
Mulligan said the culvert will be operating when the construction is finished on Fifth Street, but water will still have to go through the smaller, original culvert between Evans Street and Chico’s, which is the next location for the next phase of the project.
The new culvert is designed to withstand a 25-year storm capacity, which is the equivalent to flooding produced by Hurricane Irene, Mulligan said. The original culvert was expected to have a two-year storm capacity and anything more than that amount would result in flooding.
Mulligan said the original culvert is being replaced every day. The current project runs from the Tar River to Fifth Street, around Reade Circle, and across Evans Street. It continues to run between the courthouse and Tastee Thai (located on Evans Street), then up to Ninth Street intersection.
The Town Creek Culvert project will be completed in the summer of 2020, according to Mulligan.
“I expect we’ll be at Cotanche (Street) by the end of the year and the Cotanche (Street) to Evans (Street) part of it will be (finished), that will be the bulk of the first half of next year,” Mulligan said.
Mulligan said this project is about more than just stormwater infrastructure. According to him, the project is moving, supporting and replacing the water infrastructure.
The largest pipe in the project is 20 feet underground and workers have to dig 30 feet to access it, Mulligan said. He said this is “almost like doing surgery” because everything has to be moved around in order to access the pipe.
Mulligan said water mains and sewer pipes are being installed and replaced while the road is open in conjunction with the stormwater project. He said this is a methodical process even though it is a “long, extensive, slow-moving project.”
“I certainly appreciate the patience of everyone throughout the city, Mulligan said. “Obviously this is a large, expensive construction project to replace the stormwater infrastructure.”
City of Greenville Public Information Officer, Brock Letchworth, said the Town Creek Culvert project is going ahead of schedule.
Letchworth said he expects sections of Reade Circle to remain closed for the duration of the project because the pipe runs along Reade Circle.
Caroline Lloyd, a junior English education major, said she usually takes Fifth Street to get to East Carolina University’s main campus. The construction has added an extra 30 minutes to her commute.
“It takes like an extra 30 minutes to get home sometimes. It’s just must simpler to get to campus through that way and now it's just like I said an extra, 30, 40 minutes to where I need to go, and it's just annoying,” Lloyd said.
Hannah Bolick, freshman English and communication double major said the construction has impacted her freshman year at ECU. Bolick said “it is impossible to get anywhere” in Greenville with all the construction, and this project has only made it worse.
Bolick said she understands the construction is necessary, but she feels it should be concentrated on only one road at a time.
Bolick believes parents may be concerned about their children driving in Greenville because there are a lot of young drivers, and the traffic from the construction zones may be difficult to navigate.
“In a city like Greenville, there's already a lot of drivers who are not as experienced as we would like for people on the road to be and (if you) add in traffic on every major street, that's not gonna help,” Bolick said .