No serial killers or lunatics wielding axes have been terrorizing their neighborhood, but conditions for residences and businesses on a Mount Airy street have been relatively horrific due to a utility project that will end soon.
“It’s been a nightmare,” one business operator said Monday of the situation along Hadley Street, which has been closed to through traffic in recent months to allow crews to replace water and sewer lines and revamp the street itself.
While the business representative who used the term “nightmare” asked that her name not be published, another was openly vocal about how the detours and other traffic restrictions have affected his operation.
“Our revenue has been cut by 50 percent since they have been doing this,” Jason Isaacs, owner of Gun Country on Hadley Street, said Monday of comparisons with sales figures for corresponding months over the past three years.
“It’s been rough,” Isaacs added of the effect on business, a term that also can apply to travel conditions on Hadley Street since the utility rehabilitation project began in early spring.
In addition to hampering businesses and residences, it has eliminated use of a popular route for motorists in general who use Hadley Street as a short cut between Rockford and South streets.
End in sight
However, there’s good news on the horizon: the work will be finished soon, a city government representative announced Monday.
“This has been going on since April and we’re about to wrap it up,” City Engineer Mitch Williams said. “You can see the light at the end of the tunnel out there.”
Assuming the weather cooperates, all the work should be finished by the second week of September.
“If the residents and businesses can hang with us a couple more weeks, we’ll have them a brand-new street out there,” Williams said.
About 25 homes are located on Hadley Street, along with several businesses, such as Gun Country, Currier-Withers Supply Co., Surry Electric Motor & Controls and a professional building containing medical offices. Apartments are located on the upper end of the street.
The utility rehabilitation project — and its accompanying restrictions on travel, including detours — was unavoidable due to the condition of water and sewer lines needing attention along Hadley Street, Williams said. It is located in one of the older sections of Mount Airy, where pipes had been in the ground for 75 years or more.
When the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted last February to award a $351,161 contract to Steve Tate and Son Inc. of Mount Airy for the rehabilitation work, officials said it would alleviate numerous line failures occurring on Hadley Street in the past.
The scope of work included the replacement of about 1,200 feet of 8-inch clay gravity sewer lines and about 1,500 feet of 6-inch asbestos-cement water lines. Also slated was street overlay work aimed at extending the service life of the affected roadway.
Williams said Monday that the water part of the project is done and all but about 100 feet of the sewer line has been laid, which should be completed this week.
“We’ve got some minor sidewalk repairs to do, and after that the street will be completely resurfaced and we’re looking forward to that,” the city engineer said.
The project has been hampered by some unforeseen issues that can surface when undertaking such an effort, Williams explained.
“Rehab work is messy — it really is,” he said. “In the older areas of town, you never know what you’re going to run into digging in the ground.” This has included encountering old, abandoned lines installed many years ago before the mapping of such infrastructure became common, and the project has been complicated as a result.
Crews also have found collapsed storm drains.
“It’s just tedious,” Williams said of the type of project faced.
“It was planned to be done in August, but we added probably about a month of work,” Williams said of the impact of the various “unknowns” that have been involved.
The total price tag for the project has swelled to about $388,000, including the addition of storm drains.
Travel problems for those who call Hadley Street home have mounted, too.
“We know it’s been a huge inconvenience,” Williams said of the residences and businesses affected, but that the city has tried to everything possible to minimize the impact.
Members of the business community said they’ve appreciated such efforts, including keeping at least one driveway open at each establishment to accommodate customer traffic and deliveries.
“You never know what end you can get in and out of,” one business operator said Monday of closures that sometimes have blocked access from Rockford Street and other times from South Street. “That’s been the biggest thing.”
Isaacs, the Gun Country owner, said regular customers have ignored the no-through-traffic signs to access that business, but these have hampered the “foot traffic” that would be seen otherwise.
While the city has tried to expedite the work as much as possible, the impact on sales has been hard to ignore, he said.
Isaacs, who has met with the city manager in recent days over that concern, said his particular business has been able to weather the storm because of its operating costs.
“Our overhead is very low,” he said. But for others without that, Isaacs said he can see how they “might would be in trouble by now.”
Isaacs is glad that the end of the project is near.
“We definitely have been looking forward to it,” he said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.