Cary roundabouts get green light

Project comes in under budget

akenney@newsobserver.comDecember 16, 2012 

RALEIGH

— The town’s first major roundabouts are under budget and set for construction after years of planning and delays.

Construction of the two traffic circles that will flank downtown Cary is to begin in January or February and be completed by June, the town estimates.

The one-lane roundabouts will be installed at Chatham Street’s Y-shaped intersections with East Durham Road and Old Apex Road, on the eastern and western sides of downtown. “They’ll be an entry feature in the downtown, and they’ll serve as traffic-calming devices – you’ll have to slow down to come through the roundabouts,” said town engineer Kyle Hubert.

The roundabouts also will fill in some gaps in the sidewalks and will include pedestrian islands to ease crossings.

During construction, the town will block off the intersection of East Chatham Street and East Durham Road, instead routing drivers along Chapel Hill Road. At the western roundabout, drivers will be barred during construction from exiting Old Apex Road onto West Chatham Street.

The business most affected by the five months of construction may be the BP and Scotchman gas station on East Durham Road. The detour will pass in back of the station, but the business is sure to lose traffic from the closure of Chatham Street.

“They’re going to keep us open and keep us running, and just hope that with the construction being around and the guys working, that’ll keep us going,” said Heather Bank, a store manager. “We have apartments across the street and shops around. Most of the customers we see on the daily are local.”

Under budget

The Cary Town Council on Thursday approved a construction bid for the project, which will cost $1.3 million.

The project is running below its $2 million budget and $1.6 million construction estimate. A federal grant will pay about half the costs.

The roundabouts were first planned in 2006 but were delayed in part by the economic slowdown. When they arrive, the circles will be the first on a major thoroughfare in Cary.

Drivers approaching the intersection will yield to traffic already in the circle, enter the roundabout and exit at the road of their choice. The downtown Cary roundabouts will have just one lane, giving drivers less to think about than the problematic design originally used on a Hillsborough Street traffic circle.

Cary currently has more than a half-dozen roundabouts in neighborhoods and three larger circular intersections near the entries to subdivisions. In downtown, Bank figures, the roundabouts might simplify intersections that give drivers too many options.

“There are a lot of people T-boning or hitting each other in that area,” she said. “We’re hoping that the roundabout will keep some of the accidents from occurring.”

Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary

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