Cary eyes deal to connect Morrisville Parkway with NC 540

08/22/2014 4:18 PM

08/22/2014 4:18 PM

Two major western Cary roads may connect to each other sooner than expected.

The Cary Town Council on Thursday is expected to consider entering a $17.6 million deal with the state Department of Transportation and Turnpike Authority to build an interchange connecting Morrisville Parkway and N.C. 540.

Cary would pay $5.1 million, and state transportation authorities would pay $12.5 million. Town staff is recommending that the council approve the agreement, and it already has support from some council members.

“We’re growing like crazy out there,” Councilwoman Gale Adcock said. “This is an opportunity to help our infrastructure keep up with our growth.”

The town began drawing up designs for an interchange years ago but hasn’t had the money to fund the project.

Meanwhile, the Turnpike Authority didn’t expect to consider building the ramps until 2018, when it plans to begin work on the southern leg of N.C. 540.

The deal is likely to expedite construction, Cary spokeswoman Carrie Roman said, but an exact timetable remains unclear because the town still needs to acquire land for the project.

In January, Cary leaders told town staff to find ways to fast-track the interchange in part because delays are leaving local residents in limbo.

The Twyla Road community sits in the path of proposed construction, so some residents are hoping to sell their land en masse to a developer.

Improving traffic flow in western Cary was another incentive for speeding up the process. Town Council members have expressed concern about traffic in the area amid rapid residential development.

There are no continuous routes running east to west in western Cary that connect N.C. 54, N.C. 55 and N.C. 540.

Once it connects to N.C. 540, Morrisville Parkway will come the closest to reaching all three.

The plan scheduled to go before the Town Council would fund the interchange as well as Morrisville Parkway, which the town is in the process of extending westward to N.C. 540 from N.C. 55.

“It allows us to take the traffic off the side roads and put them onto ... the roads that were built to handle a lot of traffic,” Councilwoman Lori Bush said.

The deal calls for authorities to coordinate construction of the interchange with Cary’s completion of Morrisville Parkway – likely in 2016 or 2017.

The town has already drawn plans for two long, angled ramps that would carry traffic off of N.C. 540 onto the parkway as well as two traffic loops that would carry traffic onto N.C. 540.

The Morrisville Parkway extension would open as a two-lane road, but the town could widen it to four lanes once traffic picks up.

Councilman Don Frantz said the deal provides “a good opportunity to leverage Cary dollars with state dollars.”

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