Cary News

Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville awarded millions for traffic-easing projects

Two traffic-plagued Wake County towns will receive federal funds toward major road projects, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization announced last month.

Fuquay-Varina will receive the $4.5 million it applied for to complete Northwest Judd Parkway after its application scored highest among the 10 Wake County proposals CAMPO reviewed.

A plan to widen Morrisville Carpenter Road between Davis Drive and Page Street will proceed on schedule after CAMPO awarded Morrisville $6.3 million in federal grant money to help pay for the project’s construction.

Both projects were expected to receive the money after it was announced in early January that they had both been recommended for funding by CAMPO staff. On Feb. 15, CAMPO’s executive board formally adopted those recommendations.

Fuquay-Varina’s 2.2-mile, $18.75 million project would be the final segment of the bypass around Fuquay-Varina’s town center. The remaining $14.25 million will come from a bond passed by voters in 2015.

Fuquay-Varina Town Manager Adam Mitchell said he expects the town to seek construction bids for the project either later this year or early next year. The four-lane section will complete a decades-long project the town hopes will divert commuters and through-traffic away from busy downtown and commercial thoroughfares.

At a recent meeting of the Fuquay-Varina Board of Commissioners, he and several board members emphasized how much they’ve been doing to solve the towns’ traffic problems.

“The former secretary of transportation (Nick Tennyson) sent us a letter saying we were working faster and being more proactive than many other municipalities in trying to get transportation fixed,” Mayor pro tem Blake Massengill said at the Feb. 21 meeting.

Mitchell added, “He said that the advancements he’s seen in town are uncommon.”

Morrisville town leaders also said they expected CAMPO would award the funds for the Morrisville Carpenter Road project, which came second in the planning organization’s scoring of projects released in early January.

Planners will finish the road’s design this summer, and construction is slated to begin in early 2018. When the project wraps up in early 2019, the 1.3-mile stretch of Morrisville Carpenter Road will feature four lanes, multi-use bike and pedestrian paths on either side, and a median.

CAMPO’s contribution will represent 70 percent of the widening’s total construction cost, per the conditions of Morrisville’s application. Morrisville will pay $2.7 million, according to a news release, in addition to about $1.7 million it already has spent on design and right-of-way acquisition.

The road is a daily site of congestion during Morrisville’s rush hours. A rezoning petition approved last year for more homes along the road was the object of scrutiny from residents who said adding more homes would exacerbate a problem the town hadn’t yet proved it could solve.

As a compromise, the town and developers agreed to tie the new homes’ construction to the receipt of CAMPO funds for Morrisville Carpenter Road’s widening. Now that those funds are in hand, construction can proceed, although town leaders said in January they’ve received no indication from the property owners or developers that ground will be broken on the property any time soon.

Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan