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Delayed by concerned businesses and supply-chain issues, Wilmington's N. Front St. project eyes April start

North Front Street facing north. The 200 and 300 block, between Chesnut, Grace, and Walnut, are slated for renovations this spring.
Benjamin Schachtman
North Front Street facing north. The 200 and 300 block, between Chestnut, Grace, and Walnut, are slated for renovations this spring.

The $3.5 million project, jointly funded by CFPUA and the city's 2014 transportation bond, will update utilities and streetscaping along North Front Street between Chestnut and Walnut streets.

The streetscape project was initially planned for October of 2021, but businesses along the downtown's main street expressed concerns that construction work would block foot traffic during the holiday shopping season — many pointing to the repeatedly delayed Water Street work's impact on businesses.

Related from Port City Daily: N. Front Street businesses brace for city’s streetscape project, missing out on holiday sales

The city agreed to move the start date to January — but lingering Covid-related supply chain delays pushed the project back again. The city is now hoping to begin immediately following the Azalea Festival, which concludes on April 10.

The city plans to close one block at a time for the major underground utility work.

"Work will begin by closing one block and up to one intersection to vehicle traffic for the underground work. During this first phase of utility and street work, pedestrian sidewalks and access to all businesses will remain open. Once the first block is complete, crews will re-open that block to vehicles (with a temporary surface) and then transition into next block. When both blocks are ready, a final coat of pavement and striping will be applied to the streets," according to the city.

The overall construction time estimate has not changed, according to the city, and the project is now expected to wrap in early September. When completed, the blocks will resemble the first phase of the North Front Street project, between Market, Princess, and Chestnut. That phase was completed after six months of work in 2010; it was funded by CFPUA and the city’s voter-approved 2014 transportation bond.

The second phase, planned for this spring, is $3.5 million project, with roughly $900,000 coming from CFPUA and the rest from the transportation bond.