Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Brian Whitesell
Lynchburg, VA - Construction in midtown Lynchburg has begun. And it's going to be around for a while. We'll tell you what streets to avoid on your commute. The Midtown Connector Project has been talked about for years. So long, in fact, it used to be called the Crosstown Connector.
It's going to widen some roads to make a smoother commute. But now construction has shut down parts of Kemper Street and Park Avenue, and crews expect that to be the new normal for about seven months.
Right now in phase 1, drivers should steer clear of Park Avenue between Miller Park and Kemper. This road will be closed for months. The Vice Mayor admits construction is inconvenient. But reminds folks the benefits are lasting.
The ground's been broken. Midtown Lynchburg will have a very different look soon enough. The light near Miller Park will have a roundabout. Beautification like new street lights and brick sidewalks have residents excited Park Avenue in the Hill City will look like Park Avenue in New York City in no time.
"Park Avenue is a big name all around the world right? And then to be on Park Avenue and look like Park Avenue is going to be exciting," said Henry Reid Jr., lives on Park Avenue.
But, the Midtown Connector is more than a facelift. Project Manager J.P. Morris says it's a complicated utility project.
"Everything we build only lasts so long. And these roads and pipelines are to that point they need to be replaced," said Morris.
We'll see upgrades to sewers, water lines, and more turn lanes for drivers. But, progress has a price. Detours! Starting with the Park Avenue-Kemper Street intersection near the Amtrak station. Then, work moves to Langhorne Road between Miller Park and EC Glass High School. Drivers are staying upbeat.
"Some traffic detours aren't going to ruin your day?" we asked Kenneth Miller.
"No, nothing ain't going to ruin my day," said Miller.
"I think this project has been about 20 years in the making," said Joan Foster, Lynchburg City Council member.
Over the decades midtown has changed, some say forgotten. But, with some new pipes and an updated look, midtown's best days are ahead of it.
"I just think it's a win-win for the neighborhood and for our city," said Foster.
The construction means a few changes to the public bus schedule too. Routes 3C, 3D, 1A and 1B are affected. If you use the Hutters Alley and Rose Lane stops on Park Avenue, now you need to get the bus at the Campbell stop. GLTC also added two new temporary bus pick-ups, in front of GLTC and the Virgil Nash store.