DAVIDSON – As expected, South Street has become somewhat of a hot spot this summer, and it has nothing to do with the temperature.
A collection of infrastructure, education and environmental projects, all purposely scheduled during the summer in an attempt to ease the depth of the daily-routine disruption, have created a confluence of construction zones and just a mild case of chaos in the area at and around Davidson Elementary School (DES).
The in-progress and pending improvements currently confined to a small section of South Street include the installation of a new Charlotte Water waterline, site-clearing and preparations for a major campus addition to change DES into a K-8 facility by the start of the 2019-20 school year and the restoration and revitalization of the creek bed and natural area behind the school.
Each undertaking was planned and coordinated to coincide with the school’s summer break. And knowing what was coming led longtime DES Principal Dana Jarrett to make this prediction back in May: “There will be parts of the summer that the whole area will look something like a war zone.”
So far, work on the waterline has been the most prominent. At the end of June and first of July, crews working for Charlotte Water had cut deep into South Street – near Spring Street and south of the McEver Fields athletic complex – and detours using Mimosa Street and limiting through traffic had been implemented. Charlotte Water has stipulated that on weekends, when construction work is not underway, through traffic lanes are open.
The project is part of the installation of 11,500 feet of 24-inch diameter pipe to upgrade the main water line serving areas of Cornelius and Davidson. The $4 million Charlotte Water project is designed to provide services for the current and anticipate growth in those areas, according to Charlotte Water’s website. Crews are expected to complete work on South Street by early August, before the next school year begins.
There is also evidence that early-stage work on the $11 million addition at DES has begun. The 13-month construction project will add a three-story, 36,0000-square-foot building to the school campus on the south side of the current school. The 22-classroom building will be the future home of sixth- through eighth-grade classrooms when the conversion of DES is complete.
But the initial portion of the work involves site preparation and the focused effort to create a clearly defined and secured construction zone before elementary students return to DES in August. Construction is expected to continue during the 2018-19 school year with sixth-graders to be the new facility’s first students in August 2019.
The site work so far has involved the removal of several mobile classrooms from the grounds on the south side of the existing building where the addition will be built. Crews have placed posts along the construction zone perimeter where fencing will be installed.
The construction area will also impact the school’s existing playground. In early July, adding to the construction visible from South Street, crews were installing new playground equipment in front of the school.
The next project off South Street will be the town-coordinated effort to restore the area around a creek that flows behind DES. The town, through a partnership with researchers from Davidson College and input from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has mapped out a plan to address erosion issues along the creek bed.
The town applied for and received funding for the project from the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund. The town officially accepted the $91,817 grant last month and the public works department will oversee work to redefine the creek bed and restore and preserve the natural area behind the school. Surveying to outline the creek area work zone has begun.