Providing Transportation Choices
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On September 11, the North Carolina Council of State authorized the future granting of an easement to the Town for the Trinity Road extension. The authorization includes flexibility on the road’s location as a final alignment has not been determined yet.
Staff continues to have dialogue with the State Property Office to understand the State’s goals and priorities for their property. As part of the study, we’ve shared four potential alignments for the Trinity Road extension and have asked the State to choose its preferred alternative.
Follow up stakeholder meetings are anticipated. Current funding for the study does not include the design or construction of any street improvements.
The picture above shows the southbound view where Trinity Road crosses the railroad tracks and intersects with E. Chatham Street and WakeMed Soccer’s east driveway.
The Green Level Church Road study continues to move forward. A public meeting was held in September to introduce the study and gather input on the corridor. Over 50 study area stakeholders attended the meeting to weigh in on their vision for the corridor. Next steps include developing a draft conceptual design for Green Level Church Road through the historic district and presenting the design to the public for comment in winter 2019. Study deliverables will include a context-sensitive typical section for the corridor that balances future transportation needs with the district’s unique, historic, rural character and charm. There is currently no funding designated for design and construction of the future street improvements.
The McCrimmon Parkway study will identify a conceptual alignment for the missing link between NC Highway 55 and Louis Stephens Drive. AECOM, the project consultant, and staff are currently reviewing draft alignments. The corridor is approximately one mile long with two grade separations, one at the CSX railroad and a second at the proposed Kit Creek Greenway.
In the late fall/early winter, public meeting(s) will be held to present the preliminary concepts to stakeholders and the public for feedback. There is currently no funding for the design or construction of these roadway improvements.
Staff has hired AECOM to conduct a comprehensive study of the Piney Plains Road corridor from SE Cary Parkway to Dillard Drive. The corridor transitions from an existing three-lane to a five-lane street as it continues north. Originally developed with single-family homes on larger lots, the area is experiencing a change in intensity to reflect more dense residential uses in this location. Study deliverables will include a recommended typical section for Piney Plains Road that reflects the changing land use in this location, explores access needs, and incorporates all transportation modes potentially within the existing right-of-way. Currently, there is no funding for transportation related improvements within the corridor.
NCDOT’s US Highway 64 improvements project between US Highway 1 in Cary and Laura Duncan Road in Apex continues to move forward. The topic of aesthetics emerged among stakeholders including the MacGregor Downs Homeowners Association following a NCDOT public meeting in June. In response to citizen concerns, in August Cary hosted NCDOT, Town of Apex, and Stantec staff to discuss aesthetics enhancements. The meeting centered on options and key milestones related to aesthetic enhancements along the corridor, which may include landscaping and the incorporation of architectural design elements on bridges as part of the overall design process. Staff is also facilitating meetings between residents of several MacGregor neighborhoods and NCDOT prior to the next public meeting. The next public meeting is tentatively scheduled for early 2019 to seek input on preliminary aesthetic enhancements and updated alternatives for the project. Following project design, right-of-way acquisition is expected to begin in 2020, followed by construction beginning in 2022.
NCDOT is planning a grade separated crossing of the railroad and E. Chatham Street on NE Maynard Road. The primary purpose for this project is to improve traffic flow and safety along the rail corridor. NCDOT will host a public meeting and a business owners meeting in the second quarter to present two draft concepts for review and comment. Total estimated cost for this project is $38 million, and construction is currently scheduled
NCDOT is planning to extend Louis Stephens Road from O’Kelly Chapel Road in Research Triangle Park to Poplar Pike Lane in Morrisville. The design is approximately 75% complete and right-of-way acquisition has begun. The project includes two lanes of the ultimate four-lane cross-section with future development building the remaining two lanes. The road includes a street-side trail, which will connect to RTP’s street-side trail and Cary’s proposed Kit Creek Greenway.
A recent addition to the original road extension project includes new signal and turn lanes at the Louis Stephens Road and McCrimmon Parkway intersection. The estimated project cost is $3 million, and construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2019.
NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are proposing to build a new, limited-access toll facility from the NC Highway 55 Bypass in Apex through a portion of Cary’s southern jurisdiction to US Highway 64/US Highway 264 (I-495) in Knightdale. This proposed highway will improve mobility and reduce traffic congestion south and east of the Raleigh area while improving the regional roadway network and connecting several towns. Construction will occur in segments with staggered construction timelines.
- NC Highway 55 Bypass to US Highway 401 design-build contract anticipated spring/summer 2019
- US Highway 401 to Interstate 40 design-build contract awarded fall 2018
- Interstate 40 to US Highway 64/264 Bypass design-build contract 2027
The estimated cost is $2.2 billion.
NCDOT has begun project development, environmental and engineering studies for the proposed two projects:
- Interstate 40/Interstate 440/US Highway 1/64 reconstruction of the interchange is anticipated to begin in 2022.
- Interstate 40 construction of additional lanes between Interstate 440/US Highway 1/64 to Lake Wheeler Road is expected to begin in 2022.
These projects will be coordinated due to their overlapping project limits. Staff is working with NCDOT staff and their consultants to provide input on potential environmental impacts, traffic patterns and local development.
Work on the new right turn lanes is complete, including new sidewalk, curb and gutter, and asphalt widening. These lanes have been opened to traffic. Construction of the new medians and left turn lanes began in early September. We recently completed the medians on High House Road where continuous lane closures were installed for about six days. Due to the hard work of the Transportation & Facilities Department, Public Information, Public Works, and the Traffic Management Center, we were successfully able to notify the public and move traffic. Duke Energy Progress has also begun installation of the permanent street lighting. Construction of the medians, left turn lanes, landscaping, bus shelter, and final surface asphalt paving will continue through
After hearing concerns about pedestrian safety on Academy Street, representatives from Transportation & Facilities, Sustainability, and the Police Departments performed a Pedestrian Road Safety Audit. Staff walked the corridor to get a look at how pedestrians move along the sidewalks, at intersections, and when crossing streets. During the review, we noted locations where we had concerns and discussed how we could address the issues.
Although the concerns brought to staff were related to “crossing the street,” our focus was not just on intersections or marked crossings, but also on the experiences of people as they crossed Academy Street to get to parked vehicles at unmarked, mid-block locations. With the growing activity in downtown Cary, particularly along Academy Street, demand to access parked vehicles is likely to increase.
During our review, we noted some small items that could be improved, including trimming vegetation near a marked crossing that was blocking the view of waiting pedestrians and the use of planters to discourage crossing mid-block. Additionally, the group considered supplementary signs to remind drivers of the presence of pedestrians. Staff will summarize the findings and develop a roadmap for implementation of the recommendations.
NCDOT’s SPaT Challenge Project has moved into the testing phase. NCDOT has selected two Roadside Unit (RSU) devices and two Onboard Unit (OBU) devices to test along the NC Highway 55 and High House Road corridors. As an introduction to the testing phase, NCDOT’s contractor, Aegis, Inc., conducted SPaT training with NCDOT and Town staff. The NCDOT Project Engineers and their consultant will conduct testing runs along both corridors to determine how well each product performs. This testing period could last up to one year with completion expected in summer 2019.
Hurricane Florence had a small impact on the field equipment. One device was damaged by electrical currents from overhead power lines and had to be replaced. Other devices were shut down due to power loss and had to be restarted in the field. Overall, most intersections remained operational.
Town staff has been working with a separate vendor to test SPaT technology along the US Highway 64 corridor between US Highway 1 and Laura Duncan Road. Applied Information (AI) has installed devices at each intersection using cellular communication to share SPaT information with users that have the AI app running on their smart phones. This alternative form of communication is being considered by staff for our upcoming Connected Vehicles project. Cellular communication would allow drivers to utilize the SPaT technology sooner than the radio technology used by NCDOT on their project since drivers would only need to download an app rather than install a device in their vehicles.
After a collaborative procurement process that included representatives from multiple departments and regional transit partners, the evaluation committee for the Downtown Multimodal Transit Facility Feasibility Study selected a consultant that embodies the approach and project understanding that Cary was seeking. The study kicked off in September with the first meeting of the Technical Review Committee (TRC) which is made up of stakeholders from the Town of Cary, City of Raleigh, GoTriangle, CAMPO, NCDOT, NCRR and Amtrak.
The TRC is tasked with determining the criteria for site selection, facility functional needs, BRT routing alternatives, and ultimately, concept design of the facility. Public meetings will also give the community a chance to provide input on these elements. A final report for the study is expected in late spring, at which time we will begin right of way and land acquisition before beginning the design phase.
To better understand the planning process for BRT service, staff joined Council members Bush, Frantz and Robinson on a tour of the new Pulse BRT system in Richmond, Virginia. The tour, led by the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA), offered the group a firsthand experience with an operational BRT system. The group traveled the full length of the 7.6 mile corridor, stopping along the way to study the enhanced transit stops, which include raised platforms for level boarding, off-board fare payment options, and real-time arrival technology to enhance the customer experience. The average speed of the Pulse is 13.2 mph compared to 8 mph for local bus service, saving a rider about 20 minutes from end-to-end. For comparison, BRT routes in the Wake Transit plan are projected to travel at an average speed of no less than 16 mph.
Ridership is holding steady for the first quarter of FY 2019 compared to the first quarter of FY 2018. GoCary saw a significant increase in ridership in the first quarter last year compared to the same period in FY 2017. This can be directly attributed to the service enhancements that took effect on August 6, 2017, when GoCary added mid-day frequencies to four of its most popular routes and added Sunday service for the first time.
As gas prices continue to rise, we anticipate that ridership numbers will also increase. Transit staff recently completed a comprehensive operations analysis, with proposed service changes scheduled for late spring 2019. The changes will provide more efficient service, easier to understand schedules, improved on-time performance, and access to more areas in Cary, thereby attracting new riders and improving overall productivity.