Construction on Walnut Street – one of the busiest roads in Cary – will come to an end this month after more than a year and a half of work to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety.
The entire project is expected to be completed no later than Nov. 18, but traffic already is in its final pattern, said Bob Shultes, a project engineer with the town. Minor work remains, including some traffic signal work, signage, putting down final pavement markings and landscaping.
About $7 million was budgeted for the project, but only $5.45 million was needed to complete the construction, design and cover other associated costs, Shultes said. The funding was provided through a bond referendum passed by town voters in 2012.
Work was done on Walnut Street from the U.S. 1/64 southbound ramp to Piney Plains Road and Buck Jones Road from Walnut Street to the Best Motor Sports Imports business. Through the project, the town sought to improve pedestrian access and ease traffic near the busy Crossroads Plaza shopping center.
Shultes said the project was needed because of a high volume of pedestrians in that area. Many people often walk to the nearby shops and restaurants. About 35,000 vehicles travel on Walnut Street each day, while Buck Jones carried about 18,000 a day.
The Town of Cary added a continuous, third northbound lane from Meeting Street to Buck Jones Road to help alleviate congestion, as well as sidewalks and signalized pedestrian crossings to provide a continuous pedestrian connection along Walnut Street and Buck Jones Road.
A decorative concrete median that stretches across the Walnut Street bridge from Buck Jones Road to Piney Plains Road also is part of the project. Some of the median will have vegetation.
“That is to beautify that area,” Shultes said of the landscaping. “There’s just a lot of pavement surface around there, and that landscape is to make that a little greener or softer looking. There was some need to do a facelift out there.”
Fred Smith Company of Raleigh, the company hired to perform the work, originally expected to complete the project in June. The town extended the contract to add new sidewalk and traffic signal improvements. The sidewalk stretches along eastbound Walnut Street from Walnut Street Park at Lawrence Road and Nottingham Drive to the existing sidewalk opposite Donaldson Drive.
Some additional work on the bridge also was needed to meet N.C. Department of Transportation requirements, Shultes said.
Shultes said that during the course of the project, there weren’t many complaints about traffic because much of the work was done at night when traffic volumes were low.
“We made every effort to do it at night,” he said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon