Successful paving season ends with resident support

By Sarah Mansur
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

As Durham City Council members and Mayor Bill Bell prepared to cut the ribbon to commemorate the repaving of Harvard Avenue, Durham residents watched the long anticipated moment from the sidelines.

As Mayor Bells cuts the ribbon to commemorate the official opening of Harvard Ave, his residents are standing proudly behind him. (Staff photo by Sarah Mansur)

But before the ribbon was cut, City Council member Bill Woodard invited them to stand with him.

The Sept. 24 ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the newly paved Harvard Avenue and the end of the 2011 paving season.

When the local media captured the mayor cutting the ribbon, Durham residents were right behind him.

“What’s important in all of this neighborhood revitalization is that the community is involved,” Bell said, “It’s not something that is being done in a vacuum, because the community has a role.”

Bell said the $20 million bond referendum for the continued repaving of Durham streets passed with almost 60 percent of the votes on Nov. 2, 2010.

Shelbia Marley, a resident of Harvard Avenue who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, said she is proud that her tax dollars went to the paving project.  Before going home, Marley made sure she took a piece of the ribbon so that she always remembers the day.

Marley said she can finally take walks on the freshly paved sidewalk of Harvard Avenue.

Shelbia Marley, Harvard Avenue resident of 19 years, stands beside the new road that is no longer a safety hazard to drivers and pedestrians. (Staff photo by Sarah Mansur)

When the road was unpaved, Marley said she had to walk on the street, and she would have to worry about traffic or getting gravel in her shoes.

Marley, who has lived on Harvard Avenue since October 1992, said the street has been unpaved ever since she moved in.

The 2011 paving season has added almost 102 miles of resurfaced streets, which exceeded the original goal of 75 miles of streets, according to Marvin Williams, the director of public works in Durham.

Claudette Whitley, another resident of Harvard Avenue, said she thought the dirt road was dangerous.

“We’ve seen several cars pulled out of the ditch.  For some reason they would go off the road, especially coming up the hill,” Whitley said, “The kids couldn’t walk up and down that street because it was so bad.”

Woodard said safety was one of the main reasons that Harvard Avenue was chosen for the 2011 repaving season.

Harvard Avenue is considered a connector because it serves as a link between larger streets, and it is also a route for the school buses to travel on.

The unpaved street represented a safety hazard to the school buses, Woodard said.

“We want this to be an active neighborhood,” Woodard said, “There are young kids that play here, and we wanted to create safe streets for them.”

The bonds funding Durham’s repaving efforts totaled $37.5 million, and $11.7 million of that total has been spent on repaving expenditures for this year, according to a press release from the city’s office of public affairs.

The city plans to repave and resurface another 150 miles of streets in Durham by the end of 2012, according to the Durham repaving projects website.

“Beginning next April as we head into the 2012 paving season, our contractors will be tackling the remaining miles of street that were ranked as poor or very poor by our 2007 survey,” said Williams, “Judging from the work accomplished this season, I feel very confident that they will get these miles of streets repaved and fulfill our promise to Durham’s voters.”