Designs are still in the works in the NCDOT’s Raleigh office, but the overall plan is to improve the streetscape of Roland Avenue on the island side to build an “inviting downtown area.”
SURF CITY — The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is finalizing designs for a $500,000 landscaping project that will focus largely on improving the streetscape of Roland Avenue on Topsail Island.
Before the demolition of the historic swing bridge last year, which was replaced by the new $55 million high-rise bridge funded by the NCDOT, Roland Avenue served as Surf City’s sole entranceway onto Topsail Island. One business on the island side of Roland Avenue, Spudee’s burger shop, recently closed its doors and converted into a food truck, citing concerns of a drop-off in traffic.
According to Town Manager Ashley Loftis, the NCDOT has tapped a landscape engineer to work on the design of the project, although nothing has yet been finalized.
“However, we have asked NCDOT to focus the majority of the funds on the new Roland Avenue streetscape and the areas approaching the roundabout on N.C. 50,” Loftis said. “We feel we will get a bigger bang for our buck this way.”
Daniel Jones, an engineer for the NCDOT’s Roadside Environmental Unit in Burgaw, said the primary focus of the project is to “beautify Roland Avenue in a more downtown-type look.”
He said Bob Kopetsky from the unit’s Landscape Design and Development Section in Raleigh is currently finalizing design plans, which also include “discreet screening around the outer parts of the roundabout on the island side.”
Jones said there is no timeline set for the project, pointing to seasonal limitations that exist with landscaping work.
“You can’t go out there in the heat of the summer and you can’t go out there when it’s freezing cold either,” Jones said. “So we haven’t got a timeline set yet; we’re early on right now.”
In a newsletter published earlier this month, Loftis said landscaping work can only begin after construction on Roland Avenue is complete, which she estimated to be around June 30.
“We plan to use the majority of the landscaping budget in this area in hopes to build that inviting downtown area,” Loftis wrote in the newsletter. “We are very excited for this work to be complete as we feel it will be a great improvement to the Town.”
In early March, NCDOT engineer Chad Kimes said overall plans for the landscaping project had been finalized between officials from the town and NCDOT.
“With every big project we build, like the Hampstead Bypass and the Surf City Bridge, the state allows one percent of the total construction costs to go towards landscaping,” Kimes said.
At the time Mayor Medlin said the NCDOT had also agreed to free up state-owned right-of-way space on both sides of the new bridge, as well as areas on Roland Avenue, for the town to add up to 180 parking spaces.
Last week the NCDOT installed new signage on the roundabouts to clear up confusion among drivers in Surf City, according to WWAY.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com