The project is intended to make driving in the city's east side commercial district safer.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- The stage is set for the city to undertake a major street improvement project.
Groundbreaking is expected next month on a $1.4 million project to improve safety and traffic flow in the city's east side commercial district, service Director Joe Julian said.
The undertaking, which will take about six months, will focus on East State Street, just west of Cunningham Road.
A major aspect of the job is lowering Millville Hill by about 14 feet.
East State Street passes over the hill. The hill's crest poses a traffic hazard by blocking motorists' view as they pull into and out of the many businesses in the area.
One of the first jobs crews will undertake is building a temporary road around the hill.
The road will enable traffic to bypass the construction without having to take a lengthy detour, Julian said.
Besides lowering the hill, project plans call for removing Butcher Road's intersection with East State Street.
The road intersects East State just west of the hill's crest, making it difficult for motorists trying to enter East State to see oncoming traffic.
Widening street: Another key part of the project is widening East State.
The street is now a four-lane through much of the business district but narrows to two lanes as it passes over the hill.
Plans call for widening East State to four lanes all the way to Cunningham Road.
The widening is expected to improve traffic flow, Julian explained.
Near the Cunningham Road intersection, two of the four lanes to be installed on East State Street will be turning lanes. The turning lanes will make it easier for vehicles to get onto Cunningham Road without slowing traffic in both directions.
Wal-Mart plans: Cunningham Road will see a major increase in traffic once Wal-Mart builds a 183,000-square-foot store just east of Cunningham Road.
Construction on the store is expected to begin later this year.
Officials with the engineering firm overseeing the store project have said they have been waiting for the city to get the Millville Hill project under way before they start building the Wal-Mart.
The street project will include installation of city sewer lines that will serve the Wal-Mart. Engineers haven't wanted to start building the store without that utility in place.
Funding for the Millville Hill-lowering and East State Street widening is coming partly from the state, which is putting up about $765,000. The city is paying the rest.