Published: Aug 21, 2012 12:00 AM
Modified: Aug 21, 2012 04:28 PM
CHAPEL HILL - You’ll soon be able to down that slice of pizza – and maybe a little tandoori chicken – outdoors.
A contractor for the Town of Chapel Hill began sidewalk and related streetscape work last week on the north side of the 500 block of West Franklin Street.
The project includes building about 220 feet of concrete sidewalk, installing a brick strip and trash receptacles, while replacing bus stop amenities and bicycle racks.
The work should provide plenty of space to expand outdoor dining downtown. There is already outside seating at restaurants on West Franklin’s 400 block.
The town lets restaurants put tables and chairs outside as long as they don’t block people walking by, said Meg McGurk, director of the Downtown Partnership.
“Certainly the sidewalk (will be) wide enough there,” she said.
Italian Pizzeria III is waiting for the project to wrap up before it decides how many tables it can fit outside, co-owner Angelo Marrone said Monday. “Of course I want to do that,” he said.
The blocks also contains two Indian restaurants: Guru India and Mint
Two trees were removed last week: one elm in poor condition and one maple damaged during recent severe weather, according to the town. New trees will be planted as part of the $105,000 project, which is being funded by the 2003 Streets and Sidewalks Bond. The project also includes better lighting.
The town expects to finish the project next month.
Streetscape is designed to “enhance the pedestrian experience,” according to a town news release said.
The project covers sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, benches, public art and plantings, along with other improvements in the public rights-of-way along Franklin and Rosemary Streets, including cross streets from Merritt Mill Road to Henderson Street, .
Since the original Streetscape Master Plan in 1993, the town has been rebuilding sections of sidewalk while incorporating many other improvements. Almost all Streetscape improvements have been funded with bonds approved in 1996 and 2003.
To date, 6,750 feet of sidewalks have been reconstructed on Franklin, Rosemary, and Columbia streets. Crosswalk improvements have been completed at mid-block crossings on Franklin Street, including replacing handicap ramps. Street and pedestrian-level lighting improvements have been completed on Franklin Street and Columbia Street.