MG Hickok Street 082819

Utility work is underway on Hickok Street, the site of the Christiansburg Farmers Market.

CHRISTIANSBURG — Downtown’s Hickok Street will continue to be subjected to some significant changes in the near future.

The town about a year ago permanently closed Hickok between West Main and Commerce streets, but left open the portion leading up to College Street after members of the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church raised concerns about losing an entrance.

The part that was permanently closed is where the Christiansburg Farmers’ Market operates each Thursday from April to October.

This summer, the town has often closed Hickok’s remaining open portion during the day as part of a $1.6 million project to increase the capacity of a sewer line. Those closures block one of the entrances to a parking lot serving several businesses that include a Macado’s restaurant

The work affecting Hickok is expected to be completed in less than two weeks, town spokeswoman Melissa Demmitt said.

Hickok, however, will be the site of further construction over the next few years — with one project expected to bring improvements to the farmers’ market area.

The town in 2021 will begin construction on a major storm drainage system that will affect the street.

“The project will eliminate flooding occurring under the downtown businesses east of Hickok Street and north of West Main,” Demmitt wrote in an email. “This project is based on a similar need being addressed by the North Franklin Street storm drainage project currently under construction.”

The businesses Demmitt is referring to are the ones that include the Macado’s.

The storm drainage project is estimated to cost $2.6 million, part of which will be paid by a revenue sharing program with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“Right now, the town is responsible for approximately half that cost, but is pursuing additional funding sources,” Demmitt wrote.

Then, the town plans to make improvements to the farmers’ market area that will include placing the overhead utilities underground and the addition of wider sidewalks.

“Resurfacing is planned for this area that would have an aesthetically pleasing look in support of the farmers’ market, but those plans haven’t been finalized at this time,” Demmitt wrote.

A temporary relocation of the farmers’ market could occur, depending on when the project gets underway, she said.

“Or it could be completed outside of the months when the market is open, depending on several scheduling factors,” she said.

The work on Hickok adds to a package of road construction projects impacting downtown.

In addition to Hickok, the sewer line project has for the past several months required the closure of a portion of North Franklin’s northbound lanes.

Then in recent weeks, the town closed both sides of North Franklin to through traffic due to another storm drainage improvement projects.

Nearby business owners have expressed understanding for the projects, but they say that the construction still causes confusion.

“It’s really important, but it definitely has been inconvenient,” Jacob Greenawalt, who owns Hard Part Barber & Beard Parlor, said.

Greenawalt’s barber shop neighbors Macado’s and can be accessed from the parking lot just east of Hickok.

Greenawalt said the construction has caused some confusion with the road patterns. He said it’s probably more difficult for his business due to the fact that the barbershop is not visible from Main Street.

“This summer definitely has been the slowest couple months since I opened,” he said.

Greenawalt opened his business in 2016 and was initially located in a space directly facing Main Street.

Greenawalt said he wishes that all of Hickok would be re-opened so that it would be easier to find his barbershop and the other neighboring businesses.

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Yann Ranaivo covers local government and politics in the New River Valley, including Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford and Montgomery County.

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