Improving the intersection of Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road may not be worth the trouble.
The Cary Town Council voted 5-1 Thursday to table a plan to improve traffic flow at the intersection – one of the busiest in town. Council members said they want to examine other alternatives and weigh the merits of town staff’s recommendation.
Under the proposed plan, Cary would add a right-turn lane to eastbound Cary Parkway, add a right-turn lane to southbound Kildaire Farm Road and add another left-turn lane to Cary Parkway on each side of Kildaire Farm Road.
The plan also calls for new crosswalks and sidewalks and changes to medians on Cary Parkway.
Although town staff is still investigating ways to preserve trees, Cary would likely have to remove up to 20 of them in the medians and along the side of the road to execute the traffic upgrades.
Some council members said they weren’t comfortable approving the plan because it calls for dramatic changes that wouldn’t necessarily produce a big improvement in traffic flow.
The intersection is so busy during peak traffic hours in the morning and late afternon that it functions below standards set by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
While the proposed changes would likely improve traffic flow – shaving about 30 seconds off the morning wait and about 90 seconds off the evening wait – they aren’t expected to elevate the intersection to average standards.
The plan would only slightly improve the intersection’s current peak grade for the morning hours, said Kristen Dwiggins, the project engineer.
The town would likely need to build an interchange, elevating one of the roads, to bring Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm up to an ideal standard, she said. That would cost substantially more than the $766,000 cost of Cary’s current proposal.
Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson wondered if the council should pursue better traffic flow at the risk of making the intersection look worse.
“If people are going to be stuck in traffic, it ought to look good. When we strip away these trees, people are still gonna be stuck in traffic, but now it looks bad,” she said. “Is this the direction we want to be going?"
Robinson said the right-turn lane to southbound Kildaire Farm Road is the only part of the plan she supports.
Councilman Don Frantz said he might vote for the improvements but isn’t opposed to leaving the intersection as it is.
“It seems like we spend a lot of time, effort, angst and money trying to solve that problem we have two hours a day,” he said. “I go through this intersection often on weekends and evenings and it’s a breeze.”
Mayor Harold Weinbrecht cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I think this is, unfortunately, the best solution we’re going to come up with,” Weinbrecht said. “So I do not support delaying it, I think we need to be moving ahead.”
Councilwoman Gale Adcock said she wanted to receive more information and give residents more time to voice their opinions. So far, she said, she’s only received negative feedback about the plan.
John Yoakum, the lone resident who spoke about the plan during Thursday’s meeting, said he opposed it.
“This intersection deserves skilled surgery,” he said. “This proposal is at best a triage and will leave permanent scars.”
It’s unclear when the council will consider the upgrades again.
Other upgrades approved
Meanwhile, the council – minus Lori Bush, who was absent – unanimously approved upgrades to four other intersections:
• At the intersection of Cary Parkway and Evans Road, the town plans to add a right-turn lane and sidewalk on the northwest side of Evans Road and add a left-turn lane on the western side of Cary Parkway.
• At NW Maynard Road and Chapel Hill Road, the town plans to resurface Chapel Hill Road on the east side of Maynard Road so that it can reconfigure the traffic pattern to add a left-turn lane.
• At NW Maynard Road and High House Road, Cary plans to add a right-turn lane on Maynard east of High House.
• Cary plans to resurface and widen Cary Parkway as it curls westward to the U.S. 1 and U.S. 64 ramps.
The town hopes to complete design work for the projects by this fall, start construction next spring and complete the projects by the end of 2015.
Cary set aside $3 million from voter-approved bonds in 2012 to pay for all of the intersection improvements.