More than 650 people have signed an online petition asking local leaders to consider a multi-million-dollar plan that could keep traffic flowing more easily near the Heritage neighborhood when the state replaces a bridge.
The state Department of Transportation will demolish and rebuild the Rogers Road bridge in Wake Forest starting next March, and parts of the busy road will be closed. The project is expected to take five months to complete.
The state plans to replace four bridges in Wake Forest over the next year and a half. DOT is currently working on replacing a bridge on Forestville Road.
The Rogers Road bridge is a major thoroughfare into the Heritage neighborhood, which includes Heritage elementary and middle schools and several private schools.
The petition on change.org, which had 664 signatures by Thursday afternoon, asks town commissioners, Gov. Pat McCrory, DOT officials, Sen. Chad Barefoot and Wake County school board chairwoman Christine Kushner to consider funding a $3 million project to extend Foundation Drive.
The road runs along Heritage High School, and some nearby land is owned by the Wake County school system.
If Foundation Drive were extended to connect to Heritage Branch Road, drivers could avoid the bridge project and get back onto Rogers Road, according to Susan Calloway, who created the petition.
Calloway said closing the Rogers Road bridge and redirecting traffic for five months would pose a safety risk for students and negatively affect businesses.
“The bridge is going to be great when it’s finished and great when the road is widened, but in the meantime, they’ve created a dangerous situation,” she said.
Calloway, a business owner, contacted engineering firms to get cost and time estimates for the Foundation Drive extension project. She was told the project could cost $3 million and take up to a year and a half to complete.
Wake Forest Assistant Town Manager Roe O’Donnell said the town doesn’t have money to extend Foundation Drive. The town wouldn’t have enough time to buy the land for the resident-proposed plan, and crews would also have to build a bridge into a Foundation Drive connection.
Bridges require more environmental permits, O’Donnell said.
It would be impossible to complete the project within the time frame requested by residents, he said.
“It’s going to be inconvenient, there’s no question,” O’Donnell said of the Rogers Road bridge replacement. “But it’s not going to be for a very long period of time.”
Calloway said residents are simply “trying to avoid having a singular detour.”
“We’re at a standstill, but we haven’t given up,” she said.