Construction is underways on the Town Creek Culvert project impacting many families plans to head into downtown for the first weeks of freshman orientation.
Freshman student orientation began last week, which leads many families to downtown Greenville so they can participate in orientation traditions such as free t-shirts at University Book Exchange (U.B.E) and dinner at local restaurants.
Incoming freshmen are required to attend one of the 10 two-day orientation sessions offered throughout June and July, according to East Carolina University’s freshman orientation webpage. Before making their way downtown, families who are walking must cross Reade Circle, which is currently under construction due to the Town Creek Culvert project.
U.B.E’s general manager, Yvonne Perry, said the store is promoting students and families to come in by putting a flyer in orientation packets and promoting free items on Instagram and Facebook. The ads state that the store is giving away free t-shirts, decals, and sunglasses, Perry said.
Perry said during the first week of orientation this year, in comparison to previous years, the store has seen the same amount of students come in. She said U.B.E. is still accessible by walking down Fifth Street or parking in the free parking lot behind the store.
“It might be having a small effect, maybe a little more inconvenient for those not to be able to cross over at West End, but we’re still seeing that they’re all still coming in to get their free stuff,” Perry said.
Perry said the project may impact businesses with delivery services, such as Jimmy John’s, which need to take detours due to the construction. She said she believes the project may impact Chico's Mexican Restaurant since the construction is on Reade Street and in their parking lot.
“We understand that the culvert project is important and it needs to be done and probably should’ve been done before now. But we’re ready for the culvert project to be done, so there won’t be anymore flooding, other than that I think, it is a positive thing. It is a little inconvenient,” Perry said.
Kevin Mulligan, Greenville’s director of Public Works, said the construction on the culvert is expected to be completed by the end of June despite the heavy rain lately. The project is currently taking place in two locations: Fifth Street and Reade Circle; and Washington Street and Eighth Street.
Mulligan said “construction’s been moving along pretty well,” but the crews do lose a few hours of work time when it’s raining, and they spend several hours cleaning up the site when there's heavy rain.
The City of Greenville has allowed construction on the project 75 percent of the available Saturdays since it began last July, Mulligan said.
Mulligan said the old constricted culvert between the Pitt County Courthouse and Reade Circle leads to a lot of the flooding in the downtown area such as the flooding that occurred downtown the weekend of June.
Mulligan said the new culvert is designed for a 25-year storm and the old culvert was designed for under a two-year storm.
“So it's (the old culvert) much, much smaller and a storm like this really heightens why we’re doing this, the importance of this project,” Mulligan said. “We just all really want to get it done so we won’t see this type of flooding.”
According to Mulligan, detours are posted on closed roads and police will put up barricades in areas where it is expected to experience a flash flood during an upcoming storm.
As for orientation, orange detours signs will be posted to direct drivers to the nearest open roadway, Mulligan said.
Director of Parking Services, Debra Garfi, said in an emailed statement to The East Carolinian parking for orientation is being redirected to the parking garage located behind the student.
Garfi said directions show access to the parking garage from Cotanche Street and 10th Street. In previous years, parking has been at Minges but this year parking was moved due to convenience for the families as orientation begins in the Main Campus Student Center.
Destiny Miles, freshman atmospheric science major, said ECU is doing a good job of keeping the construction out of students sight.
“ECU is like packed together, like you don’t really see the outside unless you go outside (the campus),” Miles said.
Kaiah Andrews, freshman biology major, said she is worried about the construction affecting her ability to go downtown. She said she is from Greenville and is aware of the construction projects in the area, so she tries to avoid the area.
“It’s kind of hard to do that (keep construction away from ECU), because there's always like some part of Greenville is always being worked on so I feel like they’re doing okay but it's kind of hard to keep it regulated,” Andrews said.
Natalia Biser, freshman intended nursing major, said she isn’t worried about construction because her dorm and classes are on the opposite side of campus from West End. Biser said she the construction has been “pretty quiet.”