The town will soon begin a year-long construction project on one of the busiest roads in Cary, though steps will be taken to prevent traffic congestion.
Crews are expected to begin renovations at the Walnut Street interchange with U.S. 1/64 during the first week of January, according to Cary town staff. The project includes adding sidewalks and lanes to assist pedestrians and ease traffic near the busy Crossroads Plaza shopping center.
At least one lane in each direction of Walnut Street and Buck Jones Road will be closed at intermittent times on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Construction crews are expected to pause work between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. before resuming work until 7 a.m.
Construction crews also are expected to close lanes on the Walnut-U.S. 1/64 interchange ramps between 9 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. on weekdays.
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The construction and lane closures won’t block access to businesses, according to the town.
“We don’t anticipate any extended traffic backups, so we’re not proposing detour routes or encouraging people to use alternate routes at this time,” said Lori Cove, director of Cary’s transportation and facilities department.
“We are not starting construction until after the holidays are over,” she said last week. “So hopefully traffic in that corridor will be significantly reduced from what it was today when I was out there.”
The project, which the town expects to complete in summer 2016, will cost the town about $7 million. The funding was provided through a bond referendum passed by town voters in 2012.
The town identified the area as one of need because many people walk on the sidewalk-less Walnut Street bridge to the Crossroads shopping center, Cove said. About 35,000 vehicles travel on Walnut Street each day, while Buck Jones carried about 18,000 a day, according to the town.
“It’s surprising the number of people that walk,” she said. “You can see a path has been worn in the grass where people are walking from the bridge to Crossroads.”
The town plans to build a sidewalk on the east side of Buck Jones Road that will connect to a sidewalk being built on the east side of the Walnut Street bridge over U.S. 1/64.
To improve traffic flow, the town plans to add a northbound lane on the east side of the bridge. Cary also plans to add dual left- and right-turn lanes for traffic off of U.S. 1/64 onto Walnut Street.
Cary, known for its manicured public space, plans to improve the aesthetics of the corridor as well.
The town plans to install a black vinyl chain-link fence on the bridge to replace the current chain-link fence.
The town also plans to build a median that stretches across the Walnut Street bridge from Buck Jones Road to the U.S. 1/64 ramps on the east side of the bridge. Some of the median will have vegetation, but most of the bridge will get a “decorative concrete island,” according to town documents.
The bridge wasn’t designed to accommodate a median with landscaping, Cove said.