Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Intersection Improvements

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What's Happening Now

Construction Update: September 2018

CSX Railroad has completed their railroad crossing gate installation work on Morrisville Parkway.

Upchurch 1

Median Islands have been poured on Morrisville Parkway to demark the new travel lane patterns at the intersection.

Upchurch 2

Traffic Signal Work that remains is beginning of signal foundations, setting of signal poles, fabrication of signal cabinet and remaining traffic signal work for wire, heads, equipment etc. All traffic signal loops have been cut in and run.  

Fabrication of Traffic Signal Materials Offsite

Much of the traffic signal construction that can occur on-site has begun as of July 2018 with submittal approvals by NCDOT. 

Much of the traffic signal materials such as galvanized metal mast arm poles, signal cabinets and signal equipment that require manufacturing lead time have begun and are in process at remote locations offsite. 

Upchurch 3

When these materials are completed towards end of fall 2018, they will be installed onsite and the traffic signal can then be tested and activated.

Construction Update: Mid-July 2018

Over the past few weeks, Cary, CSX Railroad, and the contractor have worked to begin widening work in the southwest quadrant of the intersection. Widening and paving work is expected over the next several days.

Motorists can expect at least one lane of travel to be closed in each direction of NC 55, Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Road during non-peak travel times.

On Saturday, July 14, weather permitting, the contractor will close the southbound Carpenter Upchurch Road travel lane at the intersection with Morrisville Parkway to perform widening adjacent to the railroad track.

Due to limited working areas and for the safety of the traveling public, an alternate route detour will be set up to direct motorists around the work area. Other movements at the intersection will be maintained during work hours.

Please remember to drive slowly and use caution while traveling through the intersection and surrounding areas.

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: Winter 2019

Complete Construction: Summer 2019

Helpful Links


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