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Columbus closed at Madison Street as City Hall work starts

By Jefferson Weaver, The News Reporter

Columbus Street at Madison in Whiteville has been closed for the foreseeable future as contractors begin work on the new City Hall complex.

City Fire Marshal Hal Lowder said the intersection is being closed to allow Smith Allen Construction to set up the office trailer that will be used for the project. The street will also be used for storage of equipment and materials, due to the small amount of space open on the City Hall site.

Access to the police and fire departments will be open from Franklin Street.

Equipment was staged at the site Monday, and fencing began going up Tuesday. Excavation work began Wednesday morning.

The nearly $3 million project will replace the 1938 U.S. Post Office that served as City Hall for decades. Officials closed the landmark building in 2014 due to mold, lead, asbestos, and structural concerns. Estimates to repair the old Post Office and improve handicapped accessibility and energy efficiency were in excess of $3.8 million, as opposed to just below $2 million to rebuild. Last year, city council voted to demolish the building and a neighboring property owned by the city and build a new facility.

The project is being paid for through a combination of a loan, on-hand reserves, and a tax increase.

The new City Hall is expected to be in use by February, 2019.

Stuart Rogers