North Carolina Department of Transportation officials unveiled a $3 million street improvement plan expected to ease congestion and reduce wrecks along U.S. 401 in Garner.
The plan proposes creating a synchronized street on the 1.4-mile stretch from Legend Road near Wake Christian Academy to Purser Drive near Walmart. Construction for the project would begin in the summer of 2020.
The plan is only a temporary fix though, as N.C. DOT officials say there are plans to make a much larger improvement in the future.
The current design allows side street drivers to cross over U.S. 401 when needing to make a left. However, that causes delays in traffic and more wrecks.
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The synchronized street design forces side street travelers who want to cross or turn left to instead turn right first, and then make a U-turn. The U-turn area is usually about 600 to 1,000 feet from the intersection.
The U-turns would have signals.
Five intersections at U.S. 401 were analyzed, and by 2040, all were projected to be at service levels E or F. An “F” is lowest possible service level.
By 2020, U.S. 401 north of Purser Drive and Pinewinds Drive are expected to see about 48,000 trips per day.
Over the last five years, there were 366 crashes from Legend Road to Purser Drive. Those crashes resulted in more than 200 injuries and two deaths.
According to N.C. DOT officials, research shows that after improvements are made, crashes along that corridor are expected to decrease by 50 percent.
There have been a number of projects approved by the Garner Town Council along U.S. 401 within the past year. One is a 99-acre project of townhomes, apartments and single-family homes in the McCullers Crossing area.
Another project recently approved was the 660-lot Swift Creek Substation, a mixed-use development, which will be north of Eagle Ridge subdivision. Both projects are south of the street improvements.
And these aren’t the only improvements being proposed for U.S. 401. N.C. DOT is also adding additional lanes from N.C. 540 to Ten Ten Road in 2019.
Council member Buck Kennedy suggested N.C. DOT officials look into further street lighting on U.S. 401.
N.C. DOT will be looking for input in the fall for U-turn locations and pedestrian crosswalks. N.C. DOT will first meet with property owners along the corridor, then have a public input meeting.
“I really like your idea of meeting with the property owners first,” Kennedy said. “Because if it was in reverse ...”
Mayor Pro-tem Kathy Behringer suggested N.C. DOT officials contact the affected property owners to let them know of the reasons for their proposals.
The project is funded by the State Transportation Improvement Program.