Lynchburg's Fifth Street utility replacement project set to begin

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) -- As new business are moving in, another phase of Fifth Street construction is about to begin.

Fifth St. underground utility replacement project. (Lynchburg Dept. of Water Resources)

City officials say the final phase of the underground utility replacement work will begin mid-March.

The construction will force all traffic lanes to shut down as construction moves block-by-block just above the Fifth Street traffic circle. "This is not something we took lightly at all,” said Jes Gearing, the public relations coordinator of the city’s Department of Water Resources.

Though the 14-month project hasn’t started yet, it’s causing concern for area businesses. "We are starting to see more commuters on their way to work and school in the mornings so that's a huge part of my business,” explained Tyke Prater, the general manager at 5th Street Grind. “I don't want to lose, I'd love to see it grow."

The coffee shop opened five months ago.

Prater says business has been great as they're preparing to launch a mobile coffee truck this summer. But, he says those plans may have to change. "If it starts effecting business, we may have to move that plan up a little bit,” said Prater.

City officials say in order to lower costs, they will need to close all traffic lanes and eliminate a block of streetscape work.

"There will be pedestrian access to all businesses at all times, there will be parking situations that are helpful for them. We will work together to come up with solutions,” explained Gearing.

Solutions for business like Fifth and Federal Station which has been open for just over a year.

They say they're hopeful the city will help to make accommodations. "Even added parking, I think that's going to help a lot. And like I said, I hope the city is able to work out a deal of getting the Hopper up here,” explained Josh Reid, the co-owner of Fifth & Federal.

The project will cost just over $4 million – down almost a million dollars from the first bid, but, still a million dollars more than the city’s original budget.