Councilwoman Liz Johnson was surprised there wasn’t a larger crowd Thursday afternoon for an open house on the widening of Aviation Parkway.
She said a strong crowd of at least 50 recently had attended a similar meeting to discuss a proposal for adjacent Morrisville-Carpenter Road. But given how congested Aviation Parkway’s three-mile stretch can be at rush hour, maybe there jay’s three-mile stretch can be at rush hour, maybe there just wasn’t much to complain about.
“People are very, very, happy about this,” she said. “Yes, yes and yes, I’ve heard. Get it done.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plan for Aviation Parkway would create a four-lane divided highway between N.C. 54 and Interstate 40 to help relieve traffic caused by the more than 30,000 cars that use that portion of the road each day.
Construction wouldn’t begin until 2022, but the DOT first needs to secure right-of-way for its proposed expansion, which would require a swath of land more than 100 feet wide where the road currently uses about 60. That includes a 30-foot median and room for two 10-foot sidewalks.
Between the state’s work on Aviation Parkway and the town’s work on Morrisville-Carpenter Road, the entire east-west thoroughfare will eventually be four lanes between I-40 and Davis Drive.
The Morrisville-Carpenter Road project, helmed by the Town of Morrisville rather than the state, is expected to be finished by 2019 or 2020. But it also requires DOT input, as Morrisville-Carpenter Road becomes Aviation Parkway immediately east of N.C. 54.
Obstacles to the DOT plan include the portion of Aviation Parkway that crosses Lake Crabtree via causeway, which will either be widened to support an extra two lanes or supplemented with a bridge.
The open house Feb. 18, also served as an opportunity for property owners along the road to discuss the process, although only two of the neon green dots used to indicate reported concerns were visible on the map. Few residential properties abut the affected stretch of road.
Still, Morrisville Transportation Planner Benjamin Howell said the DOT’s requested right-of-way measurements might not be feasible in some areas, particularly between Evans Road and Dominion Drive. At minimum, Howell said, Morrisville’s priorities include ensuring that the redeveloped road includes a multi-use path – that is, for pedestrians and cyclists – at least 8 feet wide.
As transportation planner, Howell said he is most concerned with making sure neither the town nor the DOT steps on each other’s toes.
“I’m working with DOT to make sure they hold true to our transportation plan as much as possible,” he said. “Although we may need to amend our transportation plan depending on what they want to do. There has to be some give-and-take.”
Henry Gargan: 919-460-2604, @hgargan