Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge and Intersection Improvements Project History

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Construction Update - Spring 2020 

Contractor continues to haul and grade materials to finish roadway up to each side of the permanent CSX railroad bridge.

Bridge construction that supports the railroad track is underway and tie-back walls that support the bridge abutments are near completion.

Contractor will continue to work on temporary retaining wall that supports the current railroad detour track and permanent retaining walls that support the permanent abutments and railroad overpass.

Construction started January 2019 on the project.  42% of the contract time has elapsed and 52% of the project is complete.

The project is expected to be complete summer 2022.

Construction of Carpenter Fire Station Road


Construction of Carpenter Fire Station Road



Construction of Carpenter Fire Station Road


Construction of Carpenter Fire Station Road

Construction Update – October 1, 2019  

Carpenter Firestation Rd Update Picture 1

Carpenter Firestation Rd Update Picture 2

  • Fred Smith Company has completed earthwork operations to "rough grade stage" and has begun surveying work to lay out the new railroad bridge east of NC 55 Highway.
  • The new bridge will support the existing CSX Railroad Tracks that run parallel to NC 55 and will cross the new roadway underpass which connects Carpenter Fire Station Road at NC 55 with Morrisville-Carpenter Road within the Carpenter Historic Special Planning Area.
  • Foundation work for the new bridge is set to begin early Fall 2019.
  • The project is 52% complete as of July 2020. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2022.


Construction Update – August 15, 2019

Ongoing Construction Activities

  • Utility conflicts with PSNC Gas, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon and Town Traffic Fiber have been completed.
  • Temporary traffic signal work is complete at NC 55 Highway and Carpenter Fire Station Road.
  • Storm drainage activities in median of NC 55 Highway between Morrisville Carpenter Road and just north of Carpenter Fire Station Road.
  • Earthwork for railroad track removal for new bridge overpass began in late July.
  • Contractor is working to complete all waterline and sewer line work along Good Hope Church Road, NC 55, Saunders Grove Lane and portion of Morrisville Carpenter Road.
  • Roadway, storm drainage and grading work up to bridge site near railroad continues.
  • Bridge construction is expected to begin late-summer.
  • Punchlist work for waterline work along NC 55 and gravity sewer line work for 4101 NC 55 Highway (Gas Station/Snack Shop).
  • Storm Drainage along new roadway alignment between bridge site to Louis Stephens Drive.
  • Railroad Overpass Bridge (supports railroad track across new roadway).

For Aerial Map of Ongoing Construction Activities Summer 2019 

Upcoming Construction Activities – Start Late Summer 2019

  • Contractor will perform daytime lane closures along Morrisville Carpenter Road, Saunders Grove Lane and Good Hope Church Road for upcoming traffic switch and reopening of Saunders Grove Lane to Good Hope Church Road.
  • Traffic on all roadways will be maintained with at least one-lane open per direction of travel.

As of September 1, Saunders Grove Lane will be open to through traffic to Good Hope Church Road. For map of roadway changes in Historic Carpenter

Construction Update - Summer 2019

Ongoing Construction Activities

  • Utility and storm drainage work along NC 55, Saunders Grove Lane, Carpenter Fire Station Road, Good Hope Church Road, Morrisville Carpenter Road.
  • Roadway grading work and roadway widening ongoing on Morrisville Carpenter Road between Good Hope Church Road and Louis Stephens Drive.
  • Saunders Grove Lane closed to thru traffic to construct new roadway and utility work near intersection with Good Hope Church Rd.
  • Widening storm drainage activities and utility work along Morrisville Carpenter Road between Louis Stephens and Good Hope Church Road ongoing.
  • Submittals for Bridge Construction
  • Earthwork for new roadway construction
  • Storm drainage activities for Morris Branch Intermittent Stream
  • Tie in of new 16” waterline with Good Hope Church Rd Tank

 Construction Activities Substantially Complete

  • 16” Waterline along NC 55 Highway
  • Railroad Detour Track
  • 16” Waterline, 14” Sanitary Sewer and 10” Sanitary Sewer at CSX Railroad
  • Gravity Sewer and Pump Station Demolition – Carpenter Gas Station NC 55
  • Temporary Traffic Signal at NC 55 and Carpenter Fire Station Road.
  • Highway Utility Relocation by MCI/Worldcom, AT&T Distribution, Spectrum/Charter, Town of Cary Traffic Signal Fiber, PSNC/Dominion Energy and Duke Energy.
  • View the history of the project.

Spring 2019 Update

  • Temporary sewer line for 4101 NC 55 is complete. The Town is working with the contractor on permits for force main pump station abandonment at the same address.
  • Contractor is performing earthwork along railroad detour.
  • Clearing and utility (waterline) work along NC 55, Carpenter Fire Station Road, Morrisville Carpenter Road and Saunders Grove Lane.
  • Storm drainage installation
  • Erosion control installation
  • Clearing and grubbing and installation of erosion control measures along railroad right of way and new roadway.
  • Traffic Signal work at Carpenter Fire Station Road and NC 55 Highway.
  • View current updates on the project page.


Erosion Control Sediment Basin with Baffles along CSX Railroad Track just East of NC 55.


Removed Section of Carpenter Fire Station Road section between CSX Railroad and NC 55. 

Purpose of Project

This project consists of the realignment of Carpenter Fire Station Road from NC 55 Highway to Morrisville-Carpenter Road, west of Louis Stephens Drive. The project incorporates a new four-lane, median-divided roadway with paved shoulders for bicycles, as indicated in the Cary 2040 Community Plan and the Carpenter Community Master Plan.

The purpose of the proposed project is to realign Carpenter Fire Station Road from the NC-55 highway intersection to Morrisville-Carpenter Road just west of Louis Stephens Drive for approximately 0.8 miles to improve west-east network connectivity in and around the Historic Carpenter Community linking Western Cary to Morrisville and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

A secondary purpose of the project is to enhance west-east highway and rail crossing safety by replacing an at-grade crossing with a grade separation at the CSX Railroad alignment just east of NC 55 Highway.

The project incorporates a new four-lane, median divided roadway with paved shoulders for bicycles as indicated on the Town’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), the CAMPO 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan, the Carpenter Community Plan and the NCDOT State Transportation Improvement Program.

The following are the proposed views of the future railroad grade separation project with CSX railroad.


Figure 1 - Future CSX Railroad Grade Separation with Carpenter Fire Station Road. View is facing west toward NC 55 from Carpenter Historic District.


Figure 2 – Future CSX Railroad Grade Separation with Carpenter Fire Station Road. View is facing east toward Good Hope Church Road and towards the Carpenter Historic District.

Additional planning and general design criteria information for the Town of Cary’s ST1204 project; located in the State Environmental Assessment Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

Project Benefits

The project will provide immediate benefits to Cary citizens including:

  • Improved traffic flow by completing a strategic east-west commuter thoroughfare link
  • Reduced traffic congestion and delays at its intersection with NC 55 Highway
  • Improved traffic circulation and connectivity in the Carpenter Community area
  • Enhanced traffic safety by eliminating the at-grade railroad crossing with CSX railroad tracks
  • Wide paved shoulders to accommodate experienced bike users, which allows residents to use alternative modes of travel other than motorized vehicles.

Project Cost

The total cost of the project is $36,165,408 which includes design fees, construction engineering and administration, construction costs, right-of-way and permitting. No federal funds are proposed to be used on the project. Only Town of Cary Community Investment Bond revenue and recognized Town revenue sources will be used for the project.

Historic, Human and Environmental Coordination/Mitigation

The project is in northwestern Cary, within the National Carpenter Historic District and is designed to complement our strong transportation network and maintain CSX railroad access, while accommodating and valuing the historic character and existing finite resources of the historic area. The project was designed and will be constructed to minimize environmental and historic impacts and does require environmental/historic permitting and mitigation efforts.


Figure 3 - Carpenter National Register Historic District Map

In coordination and consultation with federal, state and local agencies, Cary is taking the lead on the following actions to mitigate historic and environmental impacts pre- and post-construction of the project via a memorandum of agreement that was executed Summer 2017. Some of the major project related actions will include the following:

  • Installation of historic district signage for Carpenter Gateway Treatments to alert visitors they have entered a historic area. These are anticipated to be installed towards the completion of the project.
  • Dismantling, recording and storage of two historic barn structures along Saunders Grove Lane within the Historic District. The barns will be dismantled by hand with the intent of salvaging as much material as possible. The barn materials deemed salvageable for historic purposes will be temporarily stored in a covered location by the Town’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department for future use by the Town of Cary in future park projects. Work to dismantle the barns and store the historical salvaged materials is complete as of November 2018.
  • Medians between NC 55 to Good Hope Church Rd lie within a portion of the historic district. Upon substantial completion; the new median will be a grass median for water quality and erosion control protection. Staff will develop a median and landscape planting plan after acceptance of the project that will feature vegetative planting in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
  • Use of non-standard expressway gutter with ditch section between NC 55 to Good Hope Church Road to minimize the disturbed area through the historic district.
  • CSX Grade Separation (Tunnel) to be designed to minimize the visibility of the new roadway alignment from the southern portion of the historic district.
  • Use of shoulder and ditch section along Saunders Grove Lane to maintain the rural character of the district.

Project Background

Morrisville-Carpenter Road west of Louis Stephens Road currently carries about 11,000 vehicles per day. Traffic forecasts for the realignment project predict that the roadway will carry over 20,000 vehicles per day at year 2030.

Public Involvement and Communications

Public meetings were held to provide information and obtain feedback on design elements to help shape the project in October 2012 and March 2014 at Good Hope Baptist Church.

At the October 2012 meeting, staff presented an aerial map that showed the project corridor. The workshop was held to receive initial feedback from citizens. View the study update newsletter/handout from the meeting.

At the second meeting in March 2014, staff presented the final roadway alignment alternatives. Citizens were asked to review and comment on the alternatives. In the follow-up to the workshop, alternative number one was selected. View the project update newsletter/proposed alternatives from the second meeting.

Citizens, property owners and businesses adjacent to the project were notified by letter on December 28, 2018 of the notice to begin construction as required by North Carolina General Statutes.