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Implementation of the regional Wake Transit Plan has resulted in significant resources being allocated to GoCary to support the system’s growth of community-based services. The plan also allocated resources to the development of fixed-guideway transit for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Commuter Rail Transit (CRT), which will converge in downtown Cary at a multi-modal facility that will serve as a central transfer hub.
Cary staff and regional partners are working collaboratively with WSP, an engineering consulting firm, to study potential locations for a new Downtown Cary Multi-Modal Transit Facility. The Multi-Modal Transit Facility will accommodate a variety of transportation options including local and regional bus service, BRT, future commuter rail service, Amtrak intercity passenger rail services, and bicycle and pedestrian connections as well as provide rideshare and parking options for commuters. Criteria used to evaluate potential downtown sites include rail access, traffic access, station area connectivity, sustainability and development potential.
The study is also evaluating potential Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors connecting downtown Raleigh with downtown Cary. Raleigh identified Western Boulevard as the preferred route to a point near the intersection with Jones Franklin Road. To complete the corridor into Cary, the plan identified three alternatives: Chapel Hill Road, E Chatham Street and Cary Towne Boulevard. A public outreach effort in 2018 asked participants to indicate a preference among the three alignment options in Cary; the Cary Towne Boulevard route received significantly more support than any other route.
Based on WSP’s analysis, the recommended route into Cary from Raleigh is Cary Towne Boulevard to SE Maynard Road to E Chatham Street. This route supports the Cary Community Plan’s vision for the Eastern Cary Gateway and takes advantage of corridors with the maximum amount of right-of-way, which supports dedicated BRT lanes. The Cary Towne Boulevard corridor eliminates conflict with the existing rail right-of-way on E Chatham Street and minimizes competition with future commuter rail planned for that location. The preferred route also better serves transit-dependent populations along Maynard Road, as well as larger existing and projected population and employment centers along the corridor fueled by large-scale development projects like Fenton and Cary Towne Center.
Staff and the consultant team are evaluating potential transit center sites and components and drafting concept plans. The team is also looking at best practices, including conducting peer reviews with similar facilities across the country. The City of Raleigh recently hired WSP for a similar study for their portion of the proposed Western Wake BRT corridor; Cary staff is serving on their stakeholder team.
Transit is partnering with teams throughout the organization to engage citizens in discussions about proposed GoCary fixed route service changes. Staff from Affordable Housing/CDBG, Community Engagement, Special Projects, Neighborhood Services, Stormwater, Planning and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources met with about 80 citizens during group sessions at Highland Village, Joshua Tree Court, and Weatherstone Spring, as well as individual meetings with citizens.
Residents had an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed changes, share stories about what GoCary means to them and offer suggestions for improvement of the system. After each meeting, the group met internally to reassess the proposed changes and look for opportunities to incorporate the feedback into a proposal for Council consideration.
In response to changing national guidelines for bicycle facilities, evolving mobility options, and in an effort to accommodate cyclists of all experience levels, staff is launching a Bike Cary Design Guide and Action Plan. The goal of this strategic effort is to develop a guide for bike facilities that complements Cary’s unique land use context and user profiles to enhance mobility options for all users while providing a more connected multi-modal network. These guidelines will allow staff to implement bicycle infrastructure based on the context of each street and the larger transportation network, rather than taking a “one size fits all” approach.
One outcome of the Action Plan will be a GIS analysis to identify key gaps in the current system based on criteria such as network connectivity, destinations, greenway connections, access to transit for first mile/last mile incorporation, constructability, and proximity to employment centers, shopping and neighborhoods. A “Top 10” project list based on gap analysis, priority, and project impact will be developed for consideration in upcoming bond, grant, and capital funding recommendations.
This Bike Cary effort is expected to take 12-18 months and will include special events and activities designed to engage citizens in the process, exploration of a “pop-up” project to pilot design ideas new to Cary, a bike facility design guide highlighting design tools to address context specific issues and an updated Bike Cary webpage.
Cary is committed to improving existing streets to ease congestion, reduce travel time and provide a high quality of life for citizens. The Carpenter Fire Station Road Widening Project from Cameron Pond Drive to NC 55 is the implementation of one of the visions of the 2040 Cary Community Plan: to ultimately provide a four-lane median-divided thoroughfare along Carpenter Fire Station Road and Morrisville Carpenter Road from Yates Store Road to Davis Drive.
The project began last summer, and field surveys were completed last fall. Conceptual plans were developed for the new four-lane thoroughfare, including a street-side trail, sidewalks and bike lane options that were presented at a public workshop in February. Staff is incorporating citizen comments regarding bike lane options into the design of the project. Staff also received feedback from Cameron Pond residents and NCDOT on potential solutions for a convenient and safe pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Carpenter Fire Station Road and Cameron Pond Drive.
Cary is a leader in North Carolina local government in the advancement of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and is moving ahead with the development of the most robust Connected Vehicles system in the country. Staff has received approval of all documentation necessary to request $2 million in grant funding authorization from the Federal Highway Administration. It is anticipated that grant funding authorization will be approved in September 2019 with construction estimated for spring 2020. The final product will connect drivers to the ITS system. This connection will allow ITS information such as school zone speed limits, pedestrian and bicycle warnings, time until the next green light, emergency vehicle approaching and work zone notifications to be shared with drivers.
As the Cary population grows, so does the need for traffic congestion mitigation and safety. This quarter, staff awarded a contract for a traffic signal at the intersection of Weston Parkway and Sheldon Drive. This traffic signal will include an extension of the Town’s fiber optic network along Weston Parkway as well as metal mast arm poles and future pedestrian signal accommodations.
Other contractors working on behalf of Cary began construction of two new traffic signals along Olde Weatherstone Way—one at Maynard Road and the other at Cary Parkway. These signals will include pedestrian accommodations and advanced signal timing to promote safety for pedestrians and motorists during school hours.
In addition to Town projects, other traffic signals are being installed in Cary as well. NCDOT is installing a traffic signal at Yates Store Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road to replace the multi-lane all-way stop. Wake County Public Schools is completing a new signal for the new Alston Ridge Middle School on Green Level Church Road near the existing Alston Ridge Elementary School. This signal will provide advanced safety features for pedestrians since this intersection currently has many students crossing on foot and is expected to have even more when the middle school opens.
In the spirit of jurisdictional collaboration, Cary and Holly Springs have created a relationship of service through traffic signal maintenance and operation. As the Holly Springs downtown continues to grow and develop, traffic congestion is becoming an issue. A new mixed-use project has increased traffic to the point that a traffic signal is needed. Holly Springs approached Cary about the possibility of Cary taking on the maintenance of this signal. In June, Cary staff sent a final agreement to be executed by Holly Springs for Cary to provide traffic signal maintenance and operations for Holly Springs’s first town-owned traffic signal at the intersection of N Main Street and W Ballentine Street. This two-year commitment will allow both organizations to learn from one another and develop the relationship as both communities grow.
Epic Games is a global powerhouse in the gaming industry and proudly calls Cary its corporate home. As the company expands over the globe due to its success, the need for more employees and space has pushed the employer into several buildings around its Cary campus on Crossroads Boulevard. With employees parking in multiple parking lots along Dillard Drive and Caitboo Avenue, many employees must walk between buildings, which requires crossing busy streets multiple times each day.
To build a better relationship with an important business entity in Cary, staff worked with Epic Games to identify their needs and address their safety concerns. As a result, four new pedestrian crossings have been installed in the area. The new crosswalk on Dillard Drive includes a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon. In July, Cary will restripe the eastern portion of Dillard Drive to better accommodate traffic patterns and make the crossing even safer.
Construction began in April on the final 0.4-mile gap in White Oak Creek Greenway, the 7-mile spine of Cary’s greenway system that runs from Bond Park to the American Tobacco trail. This trail segment is short but complex, running through a narrow open space corridor within a residential neighborhood and requiring a 100-foot tunnel under a railroad corridor and 900 feet of boardwalk. The contractor has cleared and protected the project area, installed a temporary crossing over the tracks, relocated 173 linear feet of stream and completed sewer improvements to accommodate the trail. They continue to grade the site and install storm drainage and are currently constructing permanent retaining walls and temporary shoring in preparation for boring a 14-foot diameter culvert under the railroad this fall. Construction is scheduled to be complete in summer 2020.
Important sidewalk construction projects continue to move forward with the goal of improving pedestrian safety, providing connections to schools and better connectivity across Cary.
A 2,300-foot sidewalk segment along Edinburgh South Drive was completed in spring 2019. In addition, two recently-completed segments providing direct connections to schools were the Collins Road segment adjacent to Davis Drive Elementary School and the 1,300-foot section along N Harrison Avenue which provides a direct connection to Kingswood Elementary School. Currently under construction is a segment to fill a gap along Old Apex Road just south of SW Cary Parkway, improving connectivity to Laurel Park Elementary School.
Other sidewalk segments currently in the design phase will not only provide connectivity and safe pedestrian mobility but also provide direct connections to schools:
- Louis Stephens Drive (from Carpenter Upchurch and 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)
- Ederlee Drive (from Richelieu Drive to Penny Road and Penny Road Elementary School)
- Penny Road (from Kildaire Farm Road to Crickentree Drive and Oak Grove Elementary School)
In the downtown area, construction is beginning on the sidewalk sections for E Chatham Street from the roundabout to Fire Station 2 and on the much-anticipated Walker Street brick sidewalk segment connecting Waldo Street to E Chatham Street. This project includes ADA upgrades and visual enhancements to the Chatham Street intersection. Other sidewalk segments now in the design phase include Tryon Road (filling the gap between the Ashville Avenue intersections) and SW Maynard Road (connecting High House Road to Old Apex Road).
Across the community, more than a mile of new sidewalk will be constructed in Cary in 2019, and an additional 1.5 miles is planned for 2020, bringing the total sidewalk count in Cary to 450 miles.
Cary is committed to making sure that all residents can enjoy the high quality of life we strive to provide. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides guidance that helps ensure the programs and services that make Cary great are available for all to enjoy, including people with disabilities. In 2015, staff worked with a consultant to develop an ADA transition plan for the 70 facilities and parks in Cary and provide recommendations to address any deficiencies. Since then, staff has worked to prioritize, program and implement associated recommendations that help ensure adequate accessibility.
Staff has also been collaborating with NCDOT to include provisions within Cary’s ADA transition plan to address sidewalks and nearly 7,000 curb ramps. As part of this effort, staff is working to hire a consultant to inventory, determine ADA compliance and develop priorities for associated recommendations. Staff anticipates the inventory to be completed by early 2020. Concurrent with this effort, deficient curb ramps within the project limits of the Annual Street Improvements Project are being addressed as part of that project.
Cary’s annual street improvements program is integral to reaching the goal of preserving a well-maintained transportation system.
Through collaboration with our construction contractor, consultant, various staff, and CSX Railroad, repairs were made to the CSX rail crossing on Old Apex Road, resulting in a smoother transition at this crossing.
Construction began on the 2019 Street Improvements Project in April. Since then, 170,000 square yards of old pavement have been removed, 19,000 tons of asphalt have been placed, 45 curb ramps have been upgraded to current standards, and nearly 1,200 feet of damaged or nonfunctioning curb and gutter have been replaced.
While work continues on the 2019 projects, pavement condition ratings are being finalized for the pavement condition report for 2020 projects. As part of the 2020 projects, staff members are exploring new preventative maintenance techniques and engaging residents in older neighborhoods to deliver full street improvements, not just paving, including solutions to stormwater concerns.