#036;3 million upgrade begins for Fairgrounds

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Suffolk’s big dig is about to get under way.

Braving snow flurries and bitter temperatures Wednesday, more than 35 city lawmakers, local officials and Fairgrounds Plan Advisory Committee members turned out to break ground for nearly $3 million in streetscape improvements along the East Washington Street corridor.

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&uot;It’s wonderful,&uot; said Lula Holland, Fairgrounds committee chairman. &uot;Thanks be to God, East Washington Street is finally catching up…and we are seeing it during our lifetime.

&uot;…It means growth to us and things that we (along the East Washington corridor) have always wanted, needed and deserved. We are finally getting it now.&uot;

Work should get started in the next few days, as soon as the company handing the project gets traffic lanes partially opened on East Constance Road, Jeryl Phillips, the city’s plans and policy officer, said.

For the first nine months, the focus will be on undergrounding overhead utility lines, removing electrical poles and installing water and sewer upgrades to the Fairgrounds area, Phillips said.

Once that work is done, she added, the city’s public works department will handle various streetscaping projects, including sidewalk improvements, streetlamp and bench installations, and tree plantings.

Construction on Carver Circle, the new traffic loop around the intersection of Hall, Culloden and East Washington Streets, will be completed once the undergrounding of utilities is complete, Phillips said.

The city is hoping to begin cutting streets into the Fairgrounds this summer, she said.

The project will be a nuisance for motorists on East Washington Street for the next year, Holland said. Once the project gets started, traffic will have to be detoured around the work site.

&uot;It is going to cause some inconvenience because people will have to go around the work,&uot; Holland said.

&uot;We are asking everyone to be patient and think positive about it.&uot;