DUNBAR, W.Va. -- The city of Dunbar received $278,000 for its near-million-dollar project that its mayor says will totally change the downtown's atmosphere.
Mayor Jack Yeager said the city was awarded the state transportation enhancement grant for the Dunbar Streetscape Project's second phase Monday during the evening's city council meeting. Once the city adds matching funds, $300,000 will be devoted to this phase.
"This will change the whole atmosphere downtown," Yeager said.
The riverboat-themed Dunbar Streetscape Project will remove old sidewalks and light poles and replace them with newer, wider sidewalks and retro-themed streetlights. It will add benches and flower boxes, as well.
The first phase will renovate Grosscup to Dunbar avenues. Another state transportation enhancement grant of about the same amount financed this phase. Yeager said the engineering study for it is almost complete, and construction will likely begin once the weather warms.
The second phase will renovate Dunbar Avenue from 10th to 14th Street, Yeager said. Construction on this will likely begin next year. City officials are already pursuing grant funds for a third phase that will renovate 14th to 16th street.
The estimated total project cost, with the combination of grant funding and the city's matching funds, should be just under $1 million, Yeager said. The project should be complete in three to five years.
City officials also discussed another transportation issue during Monday's meeting - increased traffic because of the closure of the Dick Henderson Bridge on W.Va. 25. The bridge closed Monday, and it is not expected to reopen until October, Yeager said.
"We're anticipating a large traffic flow into our little town," Police Chief Earl Whittington said.
Whittington said at least one officer from each shift would be assigned to monitor morning and evening traffic. Traffic has not drastically increased yet, but it has been heavy.
The primary concern city police have is bottlenecked and blocked intersections. Whittington advised motorists to not enter intersections until they are clear. Otherwise, they will risk being ticketed for blocking intersections, should traffic bottleneck and the light turns red.
"It's not worth the extra points on your license or higher insurance," he said.
If traffic increases drastically, an officer could be assigned to monitor this for the entire day, Whittington said.