The town is gearing up for a big road project that will likely cause traffic woes on Morrisville Parkway.
This spring, the N.C. Department of Transportation will shut down a 1,500-foot section of Morrisville Parkway between Crabtree Crossing Parkway and Quail Fields Court for seven days.
Then late next year or early 2016, the state will shut down the same stretch of road for six months as it completes the $16 million Morrisville Parkway grade separation. Workers will build a railroad bridge over the parkway.
The project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as the stimulus.
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It’s one of 20 projects proposed in the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The projects are designed to lower trip times for passenger rail travel, increase capacity and ensure safety.
The Morrisville project is expected to be completed by May 2017.
While a closure of less than a quarter-mile of road may not sound disruptive, DOT and Morrisville officials expect it will be.
About 11,200 cars travel that stretch of Morrisville Parkway daily, said Michelle Gaddy, a DOT engineer who is coordinating the project.
During the closures this spring and next year, motorists will use detours to Davis Drive, Morrisville-Carpenter Road or N.C. 54 to get across town.
“If you are getting off (N.C) 54 and you want to go to Preston, you are going to have a detour route,” Gaddy said.
Traffic going to the popular Park West Village shopping center will also be affected.
But businesses and homeowners in the project area will still have access.
To help ease alternative routes, DOT is working with Morrisville to make some intersection improvements to Davis Drive and Morrisville-Carpenter Road. Preliminary work has already started.
Orange cones are up, and utility crews have been moving power and water lines at the intersection of Morrisville-Carpenter Road and Town Hall Drive.
By the middle of April, the state should be ready to start installing right- and left-turn lanes on Morrisville-Carpenter Road, Gaddy said.
While that work is being done, the state will close one lane for part of the day.
“They are only allowed to close one lane from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week,” Gaddy said. “It will not affect peak traffic time.”
Once the new turn lanes are in, motorists should see a major improvement.
“It’s going to help facilitate the folks moving through that intersection quicker,” Gaddy said. “You won’t have stacking up. Folks won’t have to sit there and wait to catch a break.”
At the intersection of Morrisville Parkway and Davis Drive, workers will remove the curb to add more room for cars. Work on that is also expected to begin mid-month, she said.
Morrisville is launching a public-outreach campaign to spread the word about the project, and a project schedule and map is available on the town’s website.
The town is considering putting out a special publication with information for next year’s extended closure, said spokeswoman Stephanie Smith.
Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman said he wants Town Council members to go door-to-door to talk to residents and businesses about the project, especially in neighborhoods that will be most affected.
The Kelton II and Weston Estates neighborhoods are nearby, along with Park West Village.
“I think those neighborhoods deserve our attention because they are going to go through a lot over the next couple of years,” Stohlman said.
Councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson said she’s already getting questions about the orange cones. Some of the preliminary work could prove to be a trial run for the town’s communications plan.
“It may be a test of how citizens are using our website,” she said.