Delayed streetscape should enhance Asheboro’s infrastructure

Here’s downtown Asheboro’s Trade Street, where a project should improve the aesthetics. (Bob Sutton / Randolph Record)

ASHEBORO – The streetscape project in downtown Asheboro is still in the works, something that officials said should improve efficiency and spruce up an area of the social and business district.

Trevor Nuttall, Asheboro’s community development director, said a state grant is assisting with the project, much of which is focused on and around Trade Street.

“It’s every complex and very expensive,” Nuttall said. “It will make it look a whole lot better. It’s a project that has had various turns and something that will definitely make things look better and function better.”

Nuttall said it’s going to enhance the utility environment by replacing aged underground lines and replacing and / or removing overhead lines.

“We know the infrastructure is at the end of its lifespan,” said Addie Corder, executive director of Downtown Asheboro Inc.

Asheboro has received a $1.5 million state grant for downtown infrastructure. The total level of additional funding needed is something Asheboro officials have been regularly monitoring.

“It’s not a new idea,” Nuttall said. “It’s what we started 20-plus years ago. It really became a need. Really, the need and the funding lined up.”

By spring, about 65 percent of the design work had been in place. Originally the project was expected to start by March, but that was pushed back.

The upgrades involve collaboration with Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. Nuttall said Duke Energy is absorbing some of the cost because it benefits the company to reduce the number of overhead lines.

He said that Duke Energy has been very cooperative and responsive in dialogues regarding the project.

“It has taken longer than we wanted, but I think we have gained some partners,” Nuttall said.

Corder said there have been numerous design elements under consideration.

“We’re finishing with exactly what that is going to look like,” she said.

In addition to what happens with utility lines, there should be repaving and upgrades to sidewalks. The plans even involve relocating the area where trash cans, when ready for collection, are placed with the construction of a new collection area.

Once the pace of the project picks up, Corder said the goal is “to make it as least intrusive as possible” for businesses in that area.

Nuttall said that has been part of the planning process.

“How do we minimize disruptions?” he said. “There’s definitely some things we are mindful of.”

There are also discussions with Duke Energy to ensure that property owners in the business district aren’t negatively impacted by reconnection billings or other similar fallouts.

Full Moon Oyster Bar’s arrival on one side of Trade Street has increased the volume of traffic. The project was in the planning stages well before that restaurant opened.

The nearby Asheboro Recreation Center also impacts the amount of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in that area.

Among the goals is to get that small segment of the downtown to blend in with other areas that have been revitalized.

“Finish up what we started,” Nuttall said. “It doesn’t match what else is around that area, going back at least 10 years.”

By Bob Sutton