Monday, April 25, 2016

Transforming Spring Garden Street

Upon arriving at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus, many visitors are struck by the long line of beautiful trees on Spring Garden Street. They might not realize that the tree-lined street, brick pavers, and manicured grounds are the result of a 1998 safety and beautification project. The project was envisioned to transform Spring Garden Street into an inviting “front door” to UNCG.

Spring Garden Street c. 1897
Throughout the school’s 125 year history, Spring Garden Street has served as an important traffic corridor that brought people to campus. At the college’s opening in 1892, the original administrative building and student dormitory all faced an unpaved street. By the early 1900s, Spring Garden Street was paved and trolley tracks were installed. As the school expanded during the following decades, more land was acquired and administrative buildings and dorms were built on both sides of the busy street. With the growth of the college and the city of Greensboro, the number of motor vehicles traveling on the street also increased.

By the 1990s, the University sought to transform the portion of Spring Garden Street (between Tate and Aycock Streets) that passed through the UNCG campus. Student and faculty safety was the motivation for the construction project. Lacking clear crosswalks, the News and Record newspaper reported that “pedestrians darted from between cars parked on both sides and dodged traffic to get across the street.”

1993 Engineering Report
A preliminary engineering report was issued in 1993, creating a “design character” that was of a pedestrian friendly “parkway.” Thus, the project’s goal was to slow traffic with a narrower roadway that was divided by a median. In addition, the renovation project would accommodate new bike lanes, brick crosswalks, and widened sidewalks. Street parking would no longer be allowed. The engineering report included the costs for: new roadways, curbs, and drains, electrical work for “decorative” street lights, and landscaping for the new median and along the sidewalks. UNCG and the City of Greensboro agreed to split the costs of the $3.2 million dollar project.

During the summer of 1997, Spring Garden Street was closed and construction work began. The renovation project would last for the next twelve months. The street closure did disrupt local businesses. The owner of Yum Yum Ice Cream noted that his walk-in business declined by twenty-five percent. Moreover, there were also a number of challenges with the landscaping portion of the project. A summer drought caused some of the newly planted trees to die and a significant summer storm toppled fifteen older established trees. Because of the continued drought and summer heat, the University would delay the planting of an additional ninety trees and shrubs until after the August 1998 reopening. Nevertheless, the project came in on budget and on time.

Ceremonial Drive on Spring Garden Street
On August 17, 1998, UNCG and the City of Greensboro commemorated the completion of the “Spring Garden Streetscape” project and the reopening of Spring Garden Street. At the corner of College Avenue and Spring Garden Street, a large celebration was held, with special remarks given by UNCG Chancellor Patricia Sullivan and Greensboro Mayor Carolyn Allen. The Greensboro City Council voted to bestow the honorary name of Lee Kinard Boulevard on the portion of Spring Garden Street between Tate and Aycock Streets. Kinard, a UNCG alumnus and a well-known television news anchor at WFMY-TV was asked to speak at the festivities. The event concluded with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony and a drive down the reopened street with Kinard chauffeuring the UNCG Chancellor and Greensboro Mayor in a red convertible.

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