Fifth Street Construction Has Businesses Worried

Fifth Street in Lynchburg

Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Parker Slaybaugh

Lynchburg, VA - Lynchburg has big goals to revive Fifth Street downtown. They want to see it thriving with businesses and curb appeal. But to make it beautiful, they first have to make it a mess.

Crews will have to dig up the street and put in the proper plumbing, a mess that certainly has business owners there worried. The city met with those business owners Thursday to address their construction concerns that include noise, dust and blocked parking spots.

Sunrise Cafe opened just this month, and construction crews outside the Fifth street business for 18 to 20 months has owner Victoria Duff worried.

"Well, that is yes, a remarkable length of time. And I hope it is not down to one lane that whole time during this establishment," said Duff.

Unfortunately for Duff, Fifth street will go down to one lane for southbound traffic, and northbound traffic will get detoured.

Traffic flow is just one concern. The Fifth street neighborhood showed up at Thursday's public meeting with others, parking being one of the most important.

"With the northbound lanes being detoured, you won't be able to get to those parking spaces anymore," said Thomas Hammock with Wiley-Wilson, contractors for the Fifth Street project.

That's a problem for Pastor Charles Dunning II who's worried about parking for his congregation.

"It's going to take a little more effort, but I'll just have to explain to them what's going on and my people will cooperate," said Dunning, pastor at Jericho Baptist Missionary.

Dunning says the new roundabout put Fifth on the right road.

Businesses hope the construction to clean-up Fifth doesn't force them to close their doors.

"I'm very optimistic about it, so in the meantime, I hope we can stay in business," said Duff.

The Fifth street project is more than new plumbing. It's also new streetlights, trees, and crosswalks. City officials say with progress, there will be necessary inconveniences. Construction starts Monday.