Wrightsville Beach residents get first look at Salisbury Street project

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Featuring wider sidewalks, more landscaping and additional handicapped parking, Wrightsville Beach residents got an early look at the planned upgrades for East and West Salisbury Street on April 3. 

Town officials held the presentation at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, which helps fulfill a requirement for a parks and recreation trust fund grant that officials hope will add to the nearly $2 million already raised for the proposed  “East and West Salisbury Street Ocean Access Project.”

Town officials said they expect construction of the project to begin this fall, with a targeted completion date of May 1, 2020.

Engineers from Paramounte Engineering presented the plan to an audience of about two dozen, mainly residents or neighbors of Salisbury Street. The centerpiece of the multi-million dollar project will be a new pavilion at East Salisbury Street by Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. But the renovations will stretch west all the way to before the Salisbury Street bridge, with upgraded landscaping and improved traffic flow that will make it less confusing for visitors.

The project will feature two live oak trees at the West end of Salisbury Street to “set the stage” for visitors after they cross the bridge.  While there will be several trees as part of the landscaping, those are the only two live oaks, with the other trees being breeds that don’t grow as high, including redbud and bronze loquat trees.

The project will also feature a hedge that will border the parking spaces, shrouding the headlights of cars that park there. Overall, the project will add seven parking spaces to the parking lot, including adding three new handicapped parking spots on West Salisbury Street. Overall, the project will make add more ramps and wider sidewalks, making it more handicapped accessible. Sidewalks on West Salisbury Street will be eight feet wide, while the sidewalks on East Salisbury will be as wide as 10 feet in some places, making it easier for joggers to navigate pedestrian traffic. There will be no break in the sidewalk, allowing them to stretch all the way to the beach.

Spaces were added after engineers put all parking spots at a consistent angle of 60 degrees, as opposed to the current set up which has parking spots at 30, 45 and 60-degree angles.

The project won’t make significant changes to the traffic pattern. Traffic on Lagoon Street will still be one-way and a left turn from the North Lumina Avenue onto East Salisbury Street will still be prohibited.

Bike racks will be added to the park on West Salisbury Street and there will be an assortment of benches on the sidewalk. The project will also feature “seatwalls,” an 18-inch high wall that will also provide seating.

The ocean access park on East Salisbury Street will feature a sundial and provide a space for historical information about the town. Additionally, the turn around area there will be 40-feet wide, allowing for as many as three cars to be side-by-side for drop off and pick up at the beach.

In some cases, homeowners may see their fences and landscaping affected by the plan, as some are located on the town’s right-of-way.

Wrightsville Beach resident Jim Chaffins said that the project will likely mean he’ll have to dig up the asparagus ferns in front of his West Salisbury Street house. However, he said that

“We understand that they are on town property,” he said. “But the plan looks great. I think it’s going to work out very nicely.”

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