Construction starts next week on an $18.5 million project that will replace a rail crossing with a bridge to lift trains over Morrisville Parkway.
Traffic will be squeezed on Morrisville Parkway for most of the time until the new bridge opens in November 2016, the state Department of Transportation said. The first delays will start Monday when westbound traffic is reduced to a single lane.
Morrisville Parkway, a divided four-lane road that handles more than 12,000 cars and trucks daily, will be reduced to two lanes for about a year.
The road will be closed to all traffic during two periods that have not yet been scheduled: for seven days sometime later this spring, and for six months next year. Detours will send drivers onto Davis Drive, Morrisville Carpenter Road and N.C. 54.
The bridge will eliminate the need to stop traffic on Morrisville Parkway about a dozen times a day. The N.C. Railroad track carries six Amtrak passenger trains and usually about six Norfolk Southern freight trains every day. DOT plans to add daily passenger trains over the coming decade.
The work also includes realignments that will straighten curves on both the tracks and Morrisville Parkway. Fred Smith Co. of Raleigh is doing the roadwork under a $13.6 million DOT contract. Paul Worley, the DOT Rail Division director, said most of the remaining cost is related to 1.5 miles of railroad construction work between Morrisville Carpenter Road and Cary Parkway, to be handled by Norfolk Southern Railroad.
It’s part of a DOT construction program to reduce rail-crossing hazards and improve freight and passenger train service between Raleigh and Charlotte, funded with more than $500 million in federal grants. The proposal to eliminate the train crossing at Morrisville Parkway originally came from Triangle Transit as part of a three-county rail transit plan, which was scrapped in 2006.