GREENSBORO — Sheets of plastic block the railroad underpass downtown at Hamburger Square.
The bridge over McGee Street, near South Elm and Davie streets, is getting a cleaning and fresh coat of paint. The “Greensboro Green” color will match the city’s logo. The bridge’s architectural elements will be accented in gold and tan.
This week, that section of McGee Street is closed to traffic. The detour takes drivers and pedestrians over railroad tracks that cross South Elm Street.
Weather permitting, the contractor should complete enough work to allow McGee Street’s northbound lane to reopen after Friday evening. The entire road should be reopen on June 17, said David Ortega, a senior civil engineer with the city of Greensboro Transportation Department.
The city has painted several railroad bridges around town. For this bridge, the organization Greensboro Beautiful requested the accents and paid $6,000 to add them.
The bridge will be painted on both sides.
This painting project dovetails with a separate $344,000 beautification project that the city and Greensboro Beautiful plan to start soon in Hamburger Square.
“We spent some time thinking about what we could add to the bridge to bring it to life,” said April Harris, who leads Greensboro Beautiful’s project steering committee with David Craft and Randall Romie.
They considered the bridge’s unique architectural details.
“The timing gave Greensboro Beautiful the perfect opportunity to add to the bridge painting contract and accent the architectural elements, as part of our overall effort to beautify and renovate the area,” Harris said.
The beautification project celebrates the 50th anniversary in 2018 of Greensboro Beautiful, a nonprofit volunteer group that partners with city government and residents to maintain public gardens, coordinate litter cleanups and hold free community events.
The organization liked the idea of Hamburger Square for the project because of its central location, Harris said.
Hamburger Square got its name from the many sandwich shops once located there.
The intersection hosted hundreds of thousands of travelers in the 20th century, especially when the city was home to the Overseas Replacement Depot during World War II.
Hotels and dozens of eateries sprang up. At one time, the intersection held four sandwich shops.
The rejuvenation will focus on land owned by North Carolina Railroad Co. that surrounds its tracks.
According to organizers, the project will add green space and trees, bridge the physical gap between two parts of downtown, calm traffic and increase overall safety.
They say it will promote pedestrian crossing under the trestle, rather than across the tracks on Elm Street, and will encourage additional development and support the city’s ongoing efforts to improve downtown’s public spaces.
The project coincides with the burgeoning of the south end of Elm Street, which now includes arts and entrepreneur spaces, retailers and restaurants.
The latest budget puts Greensboro Beautiful’s share of the project at $234,586, Harris said. It needs to raise $125,000 more.
Money will go toward site development, landscaping and hardscape, such as paths and walls, paving and lighting.
The city will provide ongoing maintenance.
Greensboro Beautiful has completed design work and is now obtaining the required permits, Harris said.
It plans to start construction this summer and aims to plant in the fall.