Providing Transportation Choices
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After 18 days of continuous digging, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the White Oak Creek Greenway pedestrian culvert under the CSX railroad. The next step toward completion of the 102-foot tunnel is construction of concrete end walls. Meanwhile, work continues on the 916-foot concrete boardwalk, a 140-foot retaining wall near MacArthur Drive and trail grading in Davis Drive Park. When complete, this pedestrian connection will link Bond Park to the American Tobacco Trail.
Green Level Church Road
The Green Level Historic District has experienced considerable change over the last decade in land ownership, residential development and new school construction. As a result of this growth and based on future traffic demand in the area, the Imagine Cary Community Plan recommended a future four-lane, median-divided street for Green Level Church Road through the historic district. Green Level Church Road is currently a rural two-lane road, and the purpose of the study, initiated in March 2018, was to explore and recommend context-sensitive design alternatives along this corridor.
Following data collection, traffic analysis and extensive public input through two well-attended public meetings, as well as targeted stakeholder meetings with the Green Level Baptist Church and a generational landowner in the study area, the concept plan recommends a modified four-lane typical section with a planted median through the historic district. Sidewalk and a street-side trail are proposed to complement narrower travel lanes in the corridor’s limited right-of-way and accommodate bicycle and pedestrian mobility within the corridor itself, as well as providing critical connections to the White Oak Creek, Green Level and Batchelor Branch greenways. The proposed typical section is narrower than the standard section, and the concept plans explore rural plantings, signage recommendations, fencing and retaining wall materials to fit the unique historic context of the area. The proposed concept plan does not directly impact existing buildings. There is currently no funding for the design or construction of any street widening improvements.
McCrimmon Parkway is an east-west thoroughfare extending from Yates Store Road in Cary to NC 54 in Morrisville. The street was built in phases so missing links remain, including a gap between NC 55 and Louis Stephens Drive. Western Cary has experienced significant growth with new residential developments, multiple schools and commercial shopping centers. The Imagine Cary Community Plan recommended a future four-lane, median-divided street for McCrimmon Parkway. The Town of Morrisville is currently constructing one of those missing links, extending McCrimmon Parkway from NC 54 to Aviation Parkway. This extension is expected to open in 2019.
Cary initiated the McCrimmon Parkway Feasibility Study in March 2018. Following data collection, traffic analysis and extensive public input, the concept plan recommends a four-lane typical street section with a planted median, wide outside lanes and sidewalk on both sides. This future approximately one-mile extension will cross the CSX tracks with a grade-separated crossing near Kit Creek Greenway. Completing the connection will reduce travel time for commuters, particularly during peak hours, and improve regional connectivity between Cary and Morrisville. There are no direct impacts to existing buildings as part of the proposed concept plan. There is currently no funding for the design or construction of any street extension improvements.
Piney Plains Corridor
Redevelopment and infill projects along its mature corridors provide an opportunity to evaluate the existing transportation network and how effectively it supports the Town’s long-term land use vision. The Piney Plains corridor, from SE Cary Parkway to Dillard Drive, transitions from an existing three-lane street to a five-lane street as it continues north. Originally developed with single-family homes, each requiring driveway access onto Piney Plains Road, the corridor is experiencing a change in intensity to reflect denser residential uses.
After initiating the Piney Plains Corridor Study in September 2018, conceptual plans were developed expanding bike and pedestrian facilities. In early 2019, staff learned NCDOT’s Crossroads Junction projects (I-5701 and I-5703) may redirect one of the US 1/64 on/off ramp traffic at Walnut Street through the Piney Plains Road/Dillard Drive intersection. NCDOT’s traffic study will evaluate the traffic impacts on Piney Plains Road; however, the Crossroads Junction project is temporarily paused due to NCDOT’s cash flow issues but is expected to resume in early 2020. As a result, the Town’s Piney Plains study is on hold until NCDOT’s traffic study is available.
Important sidewalk construction projects continue to move forward with the goal of improving pedestrian safety, providing new connections to schools and enhancing overall pedestrian connectivity.
The sidewalk segment along the north side of Old Apex Road just west of SW Cary Parkway was completed, improving connectivity to Laurel Park Elementary (shown below).
The sidewalk connection along the north side of E Chatham Street from the roundabout to Fire Station 1 is currently under construction.
Staff completed designs and scheduled bidding for three sidewalk connections: Ederlee Drive (Richelieu Drive southward to Penny Road and Penny Road Elementary), Penny Road (Kildaire Farm Road eastward to Crickentree Drive and Oak Grove Elementary) and Tryon Road (between the two intersections of Ashville Avenue). Construction for these three segments is scheduled to begin this winter.
Other sidewalk segments currently in the design phase that will provide connectivity and safe pedestrian mobility, as well as direct connections to schools, include:
- Louis Stephens Drive from High House Road to Green Hope Elementary School
- Byrum Street from Walker Street to Cary Elementary School
- Old Apex Road from SW Maynard Road to Cary Christian School
For the upcoming $1.75 million FY20 Sidewalk Improvements Project, staff is evaluating sidewalk rankings to determine the highest priority sidewalk segments before beginning survey and design.
Feedback from the local community and Cameron Pond residents helped staff develop preliminary construction plans and concepts that are now under review by NCDOT. Much of the feedback centered around increased bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and designs. Preliminary plans include:
- A 10-foot-wide, street-side trail on the south side of Carpenter Fire Station Road along the entire
- Two new traffic signals, including pedestrian signals and crosswalks, at Cameron Pond Drive and
- Wide outside lanes to support experienced bike riders
A second public workshop is planned for this fall. Right-of-way plans for the four-lane, median-divided thoroughfare are scheduled to be completed in summer 2020 with construction slated for fall 2021. Plans must be approved by NCDOT since Carpenter Fire Station Road is a state-maintained facility.
Through collaboration with CSX Transportation, construction of the new railroad bridge will begin in the fall. The new bridge will support the existing CSX railroad tracks over a new east-west connector roadway east of NC 55. The new east-west roadway connector is also under construction and will tunnel under the railroad bridge, linking Carpenter Fire Station Road at NC 55 with Morrisville-Carpenter Road. The new east-west connector will serve as a major thoroughfare connecting western Cary with Morrisville, Research Triangle Park and the airport. The new road will also help Cary preserve the historic context of the Carpenter Crossroads as envisioned in the Imagine Cary Community Plan. Ongoing construction operations include storm drainage, earthwork, utility construction and erosion control. The project is approximately 35 percent complete and is expected to be finished in 2022.
In response to a pending federal rescission and efforts by CAMPO to spend down funds, Cary successfully pursued additional funding for three street and greenway projects. An additional $5 million in federal grants was approved for Higgins Greenway, White Oak Creek Greenway-MacArthur and the Reedy Creek Road widening. Cary’s transportation funding strategy focuses on pursuing state and federal funding sources first with Town funds being used to leverage these sources and fill in the remaining transportation funding gaps.
As mentioned previously, CAMPO awarded Cary an additional $3.7 million in Locally Administered Projects Program (LAPP) funding for Reedy Creek Road. Cary received several rounds of LAPP funding to help design and build a complete street serving motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The total project cost is estimated at $14.6 million, and Cary has received a total of $9,449,629 in LAPP funding. NCDOT has provided right-of-way certification and construction authorization. The next step is working with private utility companies to address conflicts prior to construction, scheduled to begin in spring 2020.
Staff from multiple departments and the contractor continue to collaborate to deliver this important downtown project. Staff also continue to coordinate with the recent substantial completion of the 2019 Water Main Improvements Project on Walker Street from Byrum Street to Waldo Street. Work on the Walker Street Improvements Project began August 19 and is approximately 25 percent complete. The contractor has completed storm drainage and water line work along Walker Street between Waldo Street and Chatham Street. The contractor began coordinating with utility owners for utility relocation work, moving overhead electrical, telecommunications and fiber optic lines underground at the intersection with Chatham Street. The contractor plans to close the intersection of Chatham and Walker Street this winter to install storm drainage and new water lines and rehabilitate sewer lines. Coordination and communication will continue with business owners and churches adjacent to the project.
Construction of the Morrisville Parkway extension, connecting NC 55 to Green Level Church Road, is nearing completion. NCDOT, the NC Toll Authority (NCTA) and Cary collaborated and jointly funded this project to make a significant improvement to the transportation network. The extension is scheduled to be opened to traffic this fall.
Construction of the NC 540 interchange at Morrisville Parkway is also nearing completion but, due to NCTA requesting revised toll gantry locations, will not be open to traffic until early 2020. Revised toll gantries are in review, and installation is scheduled before the end of 2019. After the gantries are installed, the contractor will turn over the interchange to NCTA so they can complete the toll site integration before opening the interchange to traffic.
The FY 2019 Street Improvements Project was bid in two phases. The first phase is substantially complete and included:
- 40,000 tons of asphalt
- 300,000 square yards of old pavement removal
- 1,400 feet of new curb and gutter
- 150 curb ramp upgrades
- 300,000 square yards of asphalt rejuvenator
- 50,000 feet of new pavement markings
The second phase is currently under construction, starting in the Cameron Pond neighborhood, and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
During the summer, staff collaborated with Epic Games and NCDOT to provide pedestrian improvements along Dillard Drive and worked with the contractor to repair pavement along Carramore Avenue.
Plans for the FY 2020 Street Improvements Project are being developed, including updating any curb ramps within project limits that are non-compliant with current ADA standards. The Street Improvements Program is an important vehicle for providing curb ramps in accordance with the ADA Transition Plan, ensuring that the sidewalk network is accessible to all.
The installation of two traffic signals on Olde Weatherstone Way will be wrapping up in October with one signal already in operation. This signal is adjacent to Weatherstone Elementary School and will provide improved safety for turning vehicles, as well as signalized pedestrian crossings to help students and parents walk to and from school safely.
The new traffic signal at Cary Parkway and Olde Weatherstone Way is scheduled to be placed into flashing operations in mid-October with full operations occurring prior to the end of the month.
As the Olde Weatherstone Way traffic signal projects near completion, work at Weston Parkway and Sheldon Drive/Weston Estates Way is just beginning. A new traffic signal with mast arm poles, a CCTV camera for remote monitoring and fiber optic cable connectivity to the Traffic Management System is planned for this intersection. While the design of this traffic signal will accommodate future pedestrian crosswalks and signals, it will not feature those items initially since there is currently no sidewalk at the intersection.
In addition to the Town signal projects, several other new traffic signals were installed and placed into operation during the first quarter: Davis Drive at Airport Boulevard, Davis Drive at Holly Creek Drive, Jenks Road at Roberts Road, McCrimmon Parkway at Airport Boulevard, Yates Store Road at Carpenter Fire Station Road, Green Level Church Road at Fussell Avenue/Cartecay Drive, and Davis Drive at Little Drive.