Entering or leaving downtown Elizabeth City from the north is about to become more complicated as construction crews working on Elizabeth Street prepare to replace the road’s eastbound southern lanes.
Elizabeth City City Manager Rich Olson reported Friday that Archer Western, the contractor handling the state’s Camden Causeway and Elizabeth Street reconstruction projects, has mostly finished rebuilding the westbound lanes of the road from the causeway bridge to North Road Street. The work has forced traffic in both directions onto the eastbound lanes since early this year, preventing access to Elizabeth Street from streets north of it.
In switching to the other lanes, Archer Western will have to redirect traffic from both directions onto the two westbound, northern lanes. That means, starting in late August, motorists will not be able to access the eastbound lanes of Elizabeth Street from North Road Street to Poindexter Street.
The lanes’ closure will carry over into the school year, which starts Aug. 26. That will affect bus traffic to Sheep-Harney Elementary School, which sits on the northwest corner of the Elizabeth-North Road intersection.
Randy Midgett, project manager for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said Monday that Archer Western was held to a deadline of late August for completing just the northern half the intersection. But he said getting the half closest to the school done first should improve access until Archer Western can finish the entire intersection.
As the work progresses eastward from North Road Street, Midgett estimated the Road-Elizabeth street intersection could reopen to north-south traffic in late November.
City officials are taking their own steps to reduce traffic snarls during this new phase of the project. Olson said the city plans to create a parking lot at 213 N. Poindexter Street. The city acquired the property earlier this year, and Olson said the city hopes to have the building there demolished and the lot paved by September. The city needs to remove the building before seeking bids on the project, but expects the paving to cost around $50,000.
Olson said the lot will provide a “natural loop” from Poindexter to McMorrine Street, hopefully alleviating traffic problems during the project. He added the project seeks to prevent any need to redirect the flow of city streets.
In his report Friday, Olson estimated the roads will remained closed for a year.