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Downtown residents, business owners say noisy construction is A-OK, sign of progress to come

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Vehicle sirens, loud mufflers and traffic throughout the night all make up the “urban noise” expected among downtown residents and merchants, says Innes Street resident Michael Young.

So, despite concern from City Council members last week, the added noise of construction that will span several weeks before the repaving of Main and Innes streets doesn’t seem to be much of an inconvenience for residents and merchants, with some calling it an exciting, necessary step for progress to come.

Following contract approval from council members last week, Charlotte-based STS Cable Services began construction along Main and Innes streets Monday night in preparation for a visit from the North Carolina Department of Transportation in September to repave the streets. Construction is taking place every night, except Sundays, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to avoid heavy daytime traffic and minimize impacts to downtown businesses. It involves digging trenches near various intersections to install 2-inch conduit that will accommodate modifications needed to downtown traffic signals.

Young, who renovated and currently lives in the Historic O.O. Rufty building on the 100 block of East Innes Street, said someone can expect this type of “urban noise” if they plan to live downtown. So far, he’s heard no complaint from tenants.

“Construction noise is just urban noise,” Young said. “It’s a short-term inconvenience for the long-term good.”

The construction is preparation for the first phase of the Downtown Main Street plan approved by City Council members in March. Once repaved, the number of lanes will reduce from four to three. A center turn lane for left turns onto Innes Street from Main Street will be installed. Additionally, the plan changes parking from the current, shallow, 30-degree angle to 45 degrees, the same angle planned for the North Church Street side of Bell Tower Green Park. Each block would have a yellow arrow for left turns. Protected left turns in the form of green arrows would be used in the Square to maximize pedestrian safety.

Crews from Charlotte-based STS Cable Services work at the Square on Wednesday night as construction gets underway in preparation for Main Street to be repaved and restriped. Photo by Andy Mooney, Salisbury Post.

Additionally, construction near the 200 block of West Fisher Street is expected to last until Sept. 10, when the Bell Tower Green Park is expected to formally open to the public.

Kristen Trexler, who also lives on East Innes Street near the Square, told the Post she hasn’t “heard anything different from the normal downtown Salisbury night life.”

She added that she’s OK with the construction taking place at night since local merchants have already been hit so hard from the pandemic. Like Young, she feels the construction is for the greater good.

“I have a few fans that I can put on if it gets too loud,” Trexler said. “People who move downtown have to expect it won’t be quiet like it is in the country. It’s the future and I’m excited for all we’ll have to offer to new residents. I leave it up to the professionals to figure out what’s best for downtown. I have full trust that they’re doing what’s best for the merchants, the residents and all stakeholders.”

Wendy Alexander-Persse, who recently opened The French Nest at 119 South Main St. and lives on the 100 block of North Main Street, said it’s been a bit of an inconvenience, but not unbearable. And it’s also something needed for the city.

“Night is the only time they can do it,” she said. “You can’t have progress without a little bit of inconvenience. We really need it. And the city deserves it.”

Mikey Wetzel, owner of Go Burrito, which stays open until 11 p.m., said the construction hasn’t posed any problems yet for his business. Even if it did, he “wouldn’t make a big deal out of it” because he’s in favor of the progress.

“I’m 100% looking forward to (the Downtown Main Street Plan) and the park,” Wetzel said. “The construction is worth it in the long run.”

Like Wetzel, Cheryl Goins, owner of Pottery 101 on South Main, said the construction hasn’t impacted her store or the customers visiting the gallery. And as a downtown resident, she continues to “sleep soundly through the night.”

“Even if it did bother me, I’m excited to have a start on the right path with our Main Street,” she added.

The work must be completed by Sept. 1 per instruction from the NCDOT, which plans to restripe the road after the Cheerwine Festival scheduled for Sept. 18. Construction for DOT’s work is anticipated to take five weeks as weather permits.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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