Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Intersection Improvements

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Live Traffic Map 

Get a quick glance of the intersection to evaluate traffic conditions within the project limits.

What's Happening Now

Construction Update: May 15, 2019 - New Traffic Signal Activation

Morrisville Parkway at Carpenter Upchurch Rd traffic Signal

The Town of Cary has placed the new traffic signal at the intersection of Morrisville Pkwy and Carpenter Upchurch Rd in “flash-mode” on Tuesday, May 14 as required by NCDOT and MUTCD procedures.

The traffic signal will remain in flash mode for approximately seven (7) days will give drivers the chance to acclimate to a new and safer intersection, as well as provide CSX Railroad, NCDOT and Town of Cary an opportunity to test the equipment for final activation.

There is minor remaining signing work to remove the stop signs and install signal ahead and other required traffic control devices as required in the Town’s final design plans for the intersection while the signal is on flash-mode. This remaining work is scheduled to be completed by Friday May 17. 

The new signal and intersection will be placed into the full final travel pattern and operation, Tuesday, May 21, weather permitting.

The intersection is adjacent to the school bus routes for the various track and year round schools located near the project. Wake County Public Schools Transportation Department and NCDOT who maintains the roadways have been notified of this change in travel pattern.

Motorists are advised to use caution while traveling in the area and to expect delays. We are reminding motorists to watch signs for construction information, watch for changes in the new traffic pattern, stay alert and obey the posted speed limit.

As a friendly reminder, The Town of Cary maintains all traffic signals in Cary. To report problems, call 311 or (919) 469-4090.

Construction Update: Spring 2019

Upchurch 1


New Traffic Signal

  • Traffic signal work recommenced on March 12.
  • The contractor is awaiting the delivery of the metal traffic signal poles which should be shipped to the project site by April 2019.
  • The contractor will need about eight weeks (weather permitting) to finish the traffic signal work and run the operational tests required by the railroad and NCDOT.
  • The new traffic signal will be activated and the intersection opened by the end of spring 2019.

Remaining Work

  • Corrective milling and replacement of the final layer of asphalt.
  • Remaining traffic signal work, including steel fabricated poles (Metal poles will be shipped to project site by April 2019)
  • Traffic signage
  • Intelligent transportation system work (fiber optic/CCTV installation for traffic cameras)
  • Power supply work by Duke Energy for new traffic signal
  • Remaining signal tests
  • Railroad preemption work and testing with NCDOT and CSX Railroad
  • Final pavement markings
  • Final cleanup
  • Punch list work
  • Town of Cary final inspection
  • NCDOT acceptance of the improvements on the state-maintained roadway systems.

Project Delay

The project was delayed by the fabrication of the traffic signal metal poles, manufactured by Valmont Industries. 

The Town is performing this project with a new signal installation to NCDOT standards. Cary is obligated under a municipal agreement to install and maintain the new signal to NCDOT requirements. Valmont is one of very few manufacturers on the NCDOT approved list to perform signal pole fabrications. The delays in metal signal pole fabrication are attributed to erratic and expensive supply of aluminum, steel and other metals, threat of tariffs and high demand of metal fabrication along the eastern seaboard states.

See the letter from Valmont Industries regarding metal traffic signal pole shipment to the project.

Project Background

In Spring 2007, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, CSX Transportation, Inc. and Town of Cary entered into an agreement that allowed the Town of Cary to construct an at-grade railroad crossing with Morrisville Parkway at CSX track milepost SDS 14.70.

In March 2011, the Town completed the Morrisville Parkway extension from Davis Drive to NC Highway 55. The opening of Morrisville Parkway required an at-grade crossing with the CSX railroad track east of the NC 55 Highway intersection. The Morrisville Parkway extension also included median islands to restrict some traffic movement, and signage required by NCDOT and CSX at the newly created Carpenter Upchurch Road intersection. A raised median was installed to prohibit through and left-turns from Carpenter Upchurch Road, and right turns only from Carpenter Upchurch Road. Additionally, westbound Morrisville Parkway traffic could only make left-turns onto Carpenter Upchurch Road.

Identified Safety Concerns

Due to the limited movements referenced above, traffic was observed using the adjacent railroad track surface crossing to turn, which is not permitted at the intersection.

Town and NCDOT Rail Division staff saw moving violations that included drivers and cyclist cutting through the median break on the railroad track, to either travel through the limited movement intersection or to make unauthorized left turns. These safety concerns were brought to the attention of the Cary Town Council and CSX Transportation. Additionally, during the rezoning hearing for the Olde Carpenter property at Morrisville Parkway, at the Town Council meetings on October 24 and November 21, 2013, local residents shared their concerns regarding traffic safety at this intersection and on surrounding streets. They requested the Town take steps to improve safety.

Traffic Signal Analysis

Based on citizens’ comments and Town and DOT staff observations, Town Council directed staff to explore changes to improve traffic safety at the intersection. The Town performed a traffic signal warrant analysis at the Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Road intersection. The analysis recommended that CSX Transportation convert the intersection to a signalized intersection and create turn lanes on each side of the CSX railroad track just east of NC 55.  At the regular Town Council Meeting on October 30, 2014, Staff Report TF15-035 recommended that Town Council authorize funds to implement a capital project to address ongoing safety concerns. The report was approved to allow staff to edit and execute the necessary agreements between CSX and NCDOT to begin the project and appropriate funding based on preliminary estimates.

Following initial review of safety concerns, all parties agreed that the turn restrictions on Morrisville Parkway should be eliminated and the intersection should be opened to allow left-turns from all intersection approaches. Additionally, CSX Transportation supports Cary’s work to change railroad crossing gates once the medians are removed.

Prior to these safety improvements it was necessary to revise the Morrisville Parkway grade crossing agreement. On September 10, 2015 Staff Report 16-024, which was approved by Town Council, authorized the Town Manager or other appropriate staff to execute the supplemental agreement. The agreement was approved at the October 7-8, 2015 North Carolina Board of Transportation meeting. The NCDOT Rail Division is routing the supplemental agreement to CSX Transportation for approval; it will authorize preliminary designs and the start of the work. Town staff anticipate that all parties will approve the agreement by end of February 2016.

Proposed Improvements

The following items are proposed as part to the project:

  • Removal of existing median islands that currently prohibit full intersection movements.
  • New left turn lanes for Carpenter Upchurch Rd and eastbound Morrisville Parkway.
  • New signalized pedestrian crossing with new wheelchair ramps.
  • New traffic signal with standard metal pole mast arms and new CCTV camera.
  • Flashing yellow-arrow turn signals for all left-turn approaches to improve traffic flow.
  • Improved railroad crossing signal warning devices and extended arm for turn lanes.
  • Widening in the southwest corner of the intersection for trucks and school buses.
  • Railroad preemption connection with new signal and CSX crossing signal to clear traffic in the event a train approaches.

Map of Proposed Improvements

Morrisville Pkwy

The affected roadways shown in the map above are NCDOT (state maintained), Town Staff worked with the NCDOT Rail Division, NCDOT Highway Division and CSX Transportation, Inc. to provide review designs for railroad crossing and intersection safety improvements.

Project Scope

This project supports pedestrian and traffic safety improvements along Morrisville Parkway at Carpenter Upchurch Road located between NC 55 Highway to the east of Carpenter Upchurch Road. 

The project will include traffic control, storm drainage, new traffic signals, pedestrian crosswalks and pedestrian signal heads, existing traffic signal plan revisions, traffic signal management hardware, long life pavement markings and signage.

Since the affected roadways are NCDOT (state maintained), Town Staff will work with the NCDOT Rail Division, NCDOT Highway Division and CSX Transportation, Inc. to provide review designs for railroad crossing and intersection safety improvements.

CSX Transportation maintains the railroad equipment including gates, signals and track and appurtenances within the railroad right-of-way. This project will require that CSX Transportation design and construct the upgrade and relocation of the railroad crossing gates to accommodate the proposed traffic signal controlled left-turn onto northbound Carpenter Upchurch Road.

Project Cost

The Town of Cary has allocated approximately $1,264,310 for design and construction for the project as part of the Transportation Capital Improvements Fund. The recommended FY2016 budget was approved by Town Council on June 25, 2015 consisting of $1.2 million for the project.  Staff requested additional funding to cover construction costs and contingencies of $64,310 which was allocated and approved simultaneously with the bid award by Town Council on December 14, 2017.


Begin Construction: June 18, 2018

Signal Installation: April 2019

Open Intersection and New Signal to Public:  Late-Spring 2019

Complete Construction: Summer 2019

Helpful Links


Robert E. Shultes
Project Engineer
Transportation & Facilities Department
Town of Cary
(919) 380-4104