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Wilmington’s North Front Street project delayed by six weeks

Streetscaping work on North Front Street has been delayed by six weeks.
Benjamin Schachtman
Streetscaping work on North Front Street has been delayed by six weeks.

Initially, the project was intentionally delayed to avoid impacting foot traffic during the holiday shopping season. But supply chain issues pushed the project into the early summer – and complications with underground utilities are pushing it into the fall.

The road improvements along North Front Street between Chesnut and Walnut streets have been delayed by about a month and a half according to the city.

Construction crews encountered more complex utility conflicts than expected, which has added about six weeks to the project’s overall timeline.

City spokesman Dylan Lee wrote in an email to affected businesses along North Front that contractors and staff continue to work diligently and safely to complete the work and look for opportunities to recoup time on the schedule. However, right now, the project in its entirety is scheduled to last into late October or early November.

Lee noted that T.A. Loving, the contractor of the project, will soon install the new granite curbing and the sidewalk corners in the Grace Street intersection. Once this is complete, the sidewalk work, streetscaping, and paving along the 200 block and at the Grace Street intersection will take place. In about two weeks, the contractor will begin work in the Walnut Street intersection. There will be brief lane closures and a flagger to keep traffic and pedestrians moving around the Front-Walnut intersection.

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

The project was slated to break ground in October of last year, but the city agreed to postpone it to January after businesses voiced concerns about reduced foot traffic during the holiday shopping period. But Covid-related supply chain issues pushed the project past the low-season sweet spot and into the late-spring and early-summer season.

In late May, WHQR spoke to over a dozen businesses along and around North Front Street, all of whom reported decreased profits, some lower than during last year — when Covid was hitting hard.

Related: Businesses say they're hit hard by N. Front construction despite Wilmington and WDI's efforts

The city acknowledged the “temporary but significant inconvenience,” but said delaying the project again would have likely led to increased costs. The city also said it is "actively working with the businesses to help make pedestrians and motorists aware that the businesses are open and accessible" and that it aims to finish the project on schedule.

Downtown organizations like WDI and DBA continue to work to alleviate some of the financial impact being felt by businesses in the area.