Cary is one step closer to connecting Morrisville Parkway to the Triangle Expressway by 2019 after the town began acquiring right of way near the site in June.
“We are beginning land acquisition, which means things are happening,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said Friday.
The $23.5 million project – which is at least 10 years in the making – will complete the last 1.8-mile stretch of Morrisville Parkway between N.C. 55 and Green Level Church Road and tie it into N.C. 540. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018 and last about 18 months.
“This would just be a great east-west connection for that side of town and would also provide access to the toll road,” said Kyle Hubert, the town’s transportation engineering supervisor. “Making that connection is really going to help relieve traffic on some of our other thoroughfares in the area.”
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Two Cary roads already connect to TriEx – N.C. 55 and Green Level West Road.
This interchange would be the second one along the expressway since its final phase opened in 2013. Construction on the first – at Old Holly Springs-Apex Road in Apex – began in April and is expected to be completed later this year.
On top of adding a third Cary connection to the toll road, an extended Morrisville Parkway would help better connect eastern and western Cary. It would come close to joining N.C. 54 to Highway 751, which runs from Durham to Apex.
There are no major roads that run east to west in western Cary and connect N.C. 54, N.C. 55 and N.C. 540.
“Our citizens out west would be able to connect to the rest of town much easier,” Weinbrecht said. “This should allow people who live out west to go to (Research Triangle Park) and to go south and east much quicker than they do now.”
The Morrisville Parkway extension will open as a two-lane road, but the town expects to widen it to four lanes once traffic picks up. Town staff anticipate this road widening to be needed around 2035, depending on future development.
On Monday, June 27, the Cary Town Council approved a supplemental municipal agreement with the N.C. Turnpike Authority and the N.C. Department of Transportation to help get the project moving by securing funding and laying out construction details.
Construction of the Morrisville Parkway and TriEx interchange is estimated to cost $17.5 million with right-of-way acquisitions costs estimated at an additional $6 million.
NCTA is paying $12.5 million, and NCDOT is allocating $3 million in federal grant funding. The Town of Cary is responsible for all remaining costs.
The town already set aside $5.1 million in 2014 to provide funds to complete the project. The town saved some money when the NCTA constructed the Morrisville Parkway bridge over the toll road in 2011.
“The wild card is the right-of-way cost,” Hubert said. “We’ve got estimates for it, but that’s the moving target ... If folks out there are pleased the project is coming, that would simplify those negotiations.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon