Town leaders could vote Thursday, July 23, to change the configuration of a widely used road behind the Shoppes of Kildaire Shopping Center and Trader Joe’s at the intersection of Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road.
For months, Cary staff members have studied ways to reduce traffic on High Meadow Drive, which connects to Cary Parkways.
High Meadow Drive is two lanes, with a left turn lane at the intersection of Cary Parkway. Drivers can only turn left onto Cary Parkway when a traffic light turns green.
Often, the line of cars hoping to turn left onto Cary Parkway from High Meadow Drive extends so far down High Meadow that it blocks the entrance to the shopping center. When that happens, cars hoping to turn left into the shopping center from High Meadow Drive are blocked from doing so – sometimes causing a traffic jam that extends past the entrance to High Meadow Drive and down Cary Parkway.
Traffic on the road behind the shopping center is at its worst between 4 and 6 p.m. on weekdays, said Jerry Jensen, Cary’s transportation manager.
The Cary Town Council is scheduled to consider three options at its meeting on Thursday.
Town staff recommends a plan that enables drivers to turn left onto Cary Parkway from both southbound lanes on High Meadow Drive, rather than just one lane. The plan also creates a turn lane for people hoping to turn left from High Meadow Drive into the shopping center.
Additionally, the council may consider installing a sign on High Meadow that advises drivers against blocking the shopping center entrance.
The plan, which includes a new sidewalk on the east side of High Meadow, would cost an estimated $125,000, according to Cary staff. The cost would rise by $60,000 if the town decides creates more road space for drivers to turn right onto the road from Cary Parkway.
“Heavy vehicles making a right-hand turn (onto High Meadow Drive) can’t make it because the radius is so abrupt,” Jensen said. “Their wheels end up mounting the curb.”
The town already spent $21,900 for a traffic consultant, Ramey Kemp and Associates, to analyze Cary’s options at the intersection after staff submitted its initial proposal last year.
In September, Cary staff proposed a plan that would have blocked access to the shopping center from High Meadow Drive. The Town Council postponed a decision on the plan because it was opposed by shopping center management and the Homeowners Association for Hanover West, the neighborhood located across from the shopping center on High Meadow Drive.
Regency Centers, the group that manages the shopping center, and Hanover West support the plan that Cary staff will recommend on Thursday, according to a town report.
The council is expected to consider two other options, which don’t have support from staff or the community.
In second option, the town could add a third southbound lane to High Meadow Drive at the Cary Parkway intersection. Staff doesn’t recommend this option because the town would need to buy land, which would be expensive, Jensen said.
In the third option, Cary could also simply enable drivers to turn left from both southbound lanes on High Meadow Drive – as it does in the recommended plan – without creating a turn lane for northbound drivers hoping to turn left from High Meadow Drive into the shopping center. Staff doesn’t recommend this option because cars could still block northbound lane of High Meadow, Jensen said.
Creating a turn lane for cars that want to turn left into the shopping center “gets cars out of the way,” he said. “The (turning lane) space can accommodate two cars, roughly.”
Councilman Don Frantz occasionally sees the backups when he travels to see his brother, who lives near the shopping center. Frantz needs to further review staff’s recommendation before commenting on it, he said. But he’s eager to work toward a solution.
High Meadow Drive “definitely needs some improvement,” Frantz said.