After two years, Spencer smooths out its bumpy Fourth Street ride

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SPENCER — For roughly two years, the N.C. Museum of Dolls, Toys and Miniatures was almost in the middle of an unpaved Fourth Street.

The upgrade project left the small cross-section of Fourth Street and Yadkin Avenue in varying states of disrepair as the town and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities worked through a series of delays. That led to headaches for some and detours for others. But paving finally finished on Tuesday.

Museum board Member Beth Nance said she knows there were hurdles the town had to overcome and she is glad the project is finally finished.

“While it’s slightly inconvenient, I know there were issues that were beyond the town’s control,” Nance said.

Spencer Mayor Jonathan Williams, a civil engineer, said he has been posting photos of the work on social media leading up to the final phase of the project. Williams said the only part of the project left is for NCDOT to install a wire for the traffic loop, but the street is drivable.

Debbie Barnhardt, owner of Barnhardt Jewelers on Salisbury Avenue, said the project had not affected her business or her directly, but it was good to see it finished.

Spencer Public Works Director Joel Taylor said the project’s original scope was to add drains to the street to alleviate flooding in the street. After the project started, crews found the main water line on the street needed to be replaced as well.

The expanded scope of the project caused the first delay, then workers found other problems as work on the water main began. The street was filled with old, abandoned infrastructure of which the town was unaware.

More than two years later and a bit more than a month ago, Salisbury-Rowan Utilities finished its portion of work on the water line and the town then had to wait for its original paving contractor, chosen about two years ago, to finish the work.

When things do not go exactly as planned, Williams said, people want to find someone to blame. In the case of Fourth Street, Williams said, he does not necessarily think there is blame to go around. He commended the town’s previous Board of Aldermen for starting the project. He said the biggest lesson was to ensure there is enough diligence up front.

Williams said Alderman Steve Miller, a plumber, took the project under his wing and was active at the site as well.

Williams said this project, along with other infrastructure upgrades the town needs, are among the reasons he ran for office. He was not personally affected by the project, but he said it impacts him because of his position and concerned citizens who have been dealing with the disruption for the past two years.

Williams anticipates the town taking on a number of improvement projects for the next to four years, including street resurfacing, the ongoing Park Plaza project that’s currently out to bid, using grant funding for the Yadkin River trailhead and creating a greenway connector from the town to the river, connectivity between schools and stormwater improvements along 17th Street.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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