For students at N.C. State, it's confusing and frustrating to walk down Hillsborough Street. But this phase of construction will go on until spring 2018.
Above, the Stanhope apartments are part of the years-long construction project on Hillsborough Street. Photo by Harry Lynch for the News & Observer.
For pedestrians walking down Hillsborough Street, the humming of the machinery working on the road can be deafening at times.
Traffic cones block multiple lanes of traffic, making the road heavily congested with cars. Some cross walk signs have stopped working and parts of the sidewalks are closed; Hillsborough Street is in a state of chaos.
The construction on Hillsborough Street has been an ongoing process since 2009. This phase of construction was originally scheduled to be finished in summer 2017. Now, that’s been delayed to 2018.
Most students at N.C. State feel unsafe when walking on Hillsborough Street.
Peyton Crowe, a freshman in the First Year College, said that the construction has made it “unclear” in how to get around and use the sidewalk. Darya Cowick, a second year master’s student in the College of Natural Resources, and Matthew Hamilton, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said that they are “confused” when using the sidewalk on Hillsborough Street.
Crowe also noticed that some of the crosswalk signs have stopped working, making it dangerous to cross the street. While it may feel unsafe to walk down the street because of the construction, there has only been one accident throughout the entire project where a worker broke his leg on the job, according to Richard Dickie, the project manager of the Hillsborough Street Renewal Project Phase II.
N.C. State students also expressed their annoyance with the slowed traffic and delays on the road. Karen Cusmano, a freshman in the College of Education, said that she avoids Hillsborough Street when she drives to Chapel Hill every weekend because it is “so annoying to drive through.” Andrew Haskins, a freshman in the College of Engineering, and Emily Hyman, a sophomore in the Poole College of Management, both said that they try to avoid Hillsborough Street when they can because of the construction.
Above, the view of Hillsborough Street in January 2015.
How businesses feel
Dickie is very much aware of the impact the construction has had on businesses on Hillsborough Street.
“Early on, there were lots of complaints,” Dickie said when talking about the businesses affected, “but they have all been very patient.”
Directly in front of businesses, such as Reader’s Corner and IHOP, both located on Hillsborough Street near Concord Street, parts of the road have been blocked, making it confusing for customers to find the entrance to the business or even know that it is open for business. Greg Perry, the assistant manager of IHOP, and Irv Coats, the owner of Reader’s Corner, both claimed this as a problem for their businesses.
“Most days they leave the entrance open, but some days they totally block it off. That’s when business is really hurt because we don’t have a parking lot when that happens,” Irv Coats, the owner of Reader’s Corner, said when talking about the construction.
Perry was not pleased at all with the way the construction has affected the business.
“For the first three months, no one knew we were open because of the construction,” Perry said. “When the roads get blocked off, we are short staffed because our employees aren’t able to get here.”
Perry also said that the managers of the project have been doing a very poor job in keeping them informed on when the construction will be finished and even when they will be closing the road right in front.
While Coats had a lot of negative feelings towards the project, he also said that there have been a lot of much needed improvements.
“The street here had a horribly designed intersection. Cars had a hard time seeing when they were turning,” Coats said when talking about the intersection of Concord Street and Hillsborough Street.
Coming to an end?
The second phase of the construction on Hillsborough Street began in June 2016. When it’s finished, sidewalks will be improved and bike lanes will be wider. But several things — like bad weather and a busted gas pipeline, to name a few — have slowed down construction. The second phase was scheduled to be finished this summer, but has since been pushed to spring 2018.
That’s delaying the entire project. The whole thing was scheduled to be finished in spring 2018, nine years after construction started.
But the end is no longer in sight.
“It’s going on forever,” Coats said.