Morrisville is poised to approve changes to its long-range plans for roads, sidewalks, bike trails and transit, but lately most of the attention has been focused on a single connector road that would cover only a third of a mile and may not be built for 25 years or more.
Town planners have proposed extending Crabtree Crossing Parkway north across Crabtree Creek to meet up with Town Hall Drive at Morrisville Carpenter Road near the heart of town. They say a bridge over the creek would better connect the two sides of town, reduce response times for emergency vehicles and give residents better access to places such as Morrisville Community Park, Morrisville Elementary School and the Morrisville Aquatics and Fitness Center.
But residents south of the creek say that improved connectivity will come at the expense of their neighborhoods, particularly in the Preston development, as Crabtree Crossing becomes an enticing alternative to N.C. 54 and Davis Drive for commuters They have made their case through hundreds of written comments to the town and at a public hearing before the town council late last month, where they wore red to show their opposition.
Zul Abbany, who lives on Crabtree Crossing in Cary, said the increased traffic that would result from completing the street to Morrisville Carpenter Road would bring noise and congestion to his neighborhood, which includes residents of both towns.
“What we are asking you ... is please do not sign off with the stroke of a pen the investment that we have in our homes,” Abbany said. “What we are asking you is please do not ratify a project that will threaten the safety of our kids and will impact our lifestyle.”
The proposed bridge across the creek would connect to a dead-end section of Crabtree Creek Parkway north of Morrisville Parkway that has no driveways, except for the entrances to apartment complexes. The speed limit is 35 mph.
But south of Morrisville Parkway, Crabtree Crossing enters the Preston community, where it is lined with homes and townhouses and the speed limit drops to 25. There are raised humps to slow drivers down, a median covered with trees and crossings for golf carts getting from one part of Prestonwood Golf Club to another.
“Crabtree Crossing Parkway was never designed to be loaded down with traffic,” said Karen Walker, who lives on the Morrisville part of the street. She told council members that if they approve the connection, “You as town leaders will then be forced to look for remedies to enhance traffic flow once this bad decision is enacted and cannot be reversed.”
Building the Crabtree Crossing connector is not a new idea. In 2004, it was one of four projects the town proposed to complete with money from a bond referendum that won overwhelming support from voters.
But town planners say the connector had to be shelved when the money raised by the bonds didn’t cover the cost of all four projects. And when the town developed a long-range comprehensive transportation plan in 2009, the Crabtree Crossing Extension was left out.
Lee Langston, one of three members of the town planning and zoning board who spoke in favor of the extension at the hearing, said the 2004 bond referendum shows there is wide public support for the project. Langston, who lives on the north side of the creek, said traffic models show the road would not become a big commuter route and that he thinks the additional connection will benefit town residents.
“I urge you to look out for everybody in town, all 25,000 residents of this town, not just a few hundred people who live in one small area,” he said.
The town council decided to extend the public hearing on the transportation plan, which will resume at town hall Tuesday evening. For more information, go to www.townofmorrisville.org/government/public-notices.