City officials have confirmed the lighting and safety improvements currently being installed at the intersection of 5th and Market streets, where the historic Kenan Fountain is located, will be completed by September 15.
In a written statement released by city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert, the sidewalks at all four corners of the intersection will become handicapped accessible, along with installing underground wiring for planned signal and lighting improvements. Construction crews are installing overhead lighting to better illuminate the intersection, as well as updated pedestrian signals.
Wilmington City Council approved the new lighting scheme last year for the fountain, citing the need for extra pedestrian safety at the intersections surrounding it, along with better lighting to prevent cars from crashing into or side-swiping it.
Traffic and pedestrian signals at the intersection will be programmed to stay red during nighttime hours until a vehicle arrives at the intersection or a pedestrian pushes the “walk” button. According to Talbert, the red light will cause cars to slow down when approaching the intersection and is expected to lower the probability that vehicles will hit the fountain.
Cracks, scrape marks and car-rendered scars are evidence of at least 20 impacts Kenan Fountain has sustained in the past five or six years alone. In the greater plaza around it, the city has documented at least 75 miscellaneous accidents in the same period. Most occurred around 2 a.m.
In 2013, the city settled with an insurance company for $50,000 for damages to the fountain after an impaired driver slammed into the fountain.