CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Construction of the embattled Hawthorne Lane Bridge is set to resume Monday. The bridge has been closed since 2017. The project came to a halt in 2018 after a contractor used incorrect girders. The bridge was originally expected to open in March 2019 and is projected to open in April 2020.
"We understand it has been a long and arduous process, but we feel like we are getting to a point where we are going to start to see some success," Tonia Wimberly, deputy project manager said.
The Charlotte Area Transit System said the department has been doing extensive testing in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to make sure these girders are correct.
"It's been checked, when it gets here, the best way to know is when they sit that last girder that it all fits, but mathematically, now, everything should fit," Wimberly said.
Friday afternoon, crews started prepping for Monday's construction, closing lanes on Independence Boulevard in the process.
Monday night, there will be a full closure of the eastbound lanes of Independence between uptown and Briar Creek from 10 p.m. until early Tuesday morning. This is to replace the girders.
CATS said residents should expect an increase in overnight sounds in the work zone due to the construction. Overnight commuters will have to use Central Avenue or East 7th Street as alternate routes.
While construction of the bridge will soon resume, the project has resulted in another business closure.
Toucan Louie's Plaza Midwood location was forced to close last month.
"When there was really no idea of when it was coming around, we decided to cut our losses," Marc Kieffer, of Toucan Louie's said. "It is frustrating."
The main Toucan Louie's is in west Charlotte at the other end of the streetcar construction. Since it started, business has dropped 25%.
Kieffer is worried because starting this weekend and for the next five weeks, the Trade Street and Rozzelles Ferry Road intersection will close.
He said the city needs to find a way to support growth without negatively impacting small businesses.
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"I wish there was a way they could supplement or support businesses in the meantime," he said.
Toucan Louie's is the second business to close due to the streetcar construction. Catch On Seafood shut down in 2017, citing a 60% loss in sales. Hawthorne's Pizza in Elizabeth has also said business has dropped dramatically since construction began.
CATS said the department understands the frustrations of small businesses.
"We understand it is a very long construction process and it is a very long and complicated project," Wimberly said. "But with the streetcar project comes, a lot of other city infrastructure that is being replaced. When it is finished, you will have new roadways, new underground infrastructure as well as a new mode of transportation."
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