Cary News

Morrisville, NC DOT jointly funding McCrimmon Parkway extension

The state has saved Morrisville officials from the hard choice of going over budget or dramatically scaling back plans for the anticipated McCrimmon Parkway extension.

But the decision could come at the expense of the $14 million Western Wake Competition Center, which needs the road to be completed to become a reality.

The state Department of Transportation decided in May to contribute $10.9 million to help the town complete the road. With the town contributing an additional $14.3 million, the road likely would be finished by 2020 or 2021, which is several years past the original timeframe of December 2017.

In accepting the state’s help and the longer timeline, the town could put the Western Wake Competition Center project in jeopardy. The privately owned center, which will have hockey, volleyball and gymnastics facilities, needs to have the road completed near the property for construction crews and visitors. And it needs to be built by 2018 to receive $3 million in county funding.

The Town Council decided to take that risk after hearing a solution might be found for building the center.

“We don’t think that this should be something that holds us back on choosing the partnership with the DOT,” Assistant Town Manager Tony Chiotakis said at a recent meeting.

Jeff Ammons, whose Raleigh-based Ammons Building Corp. is behind the athletics center, said he also is optimistic about opening within the next several years.

Ammons received a $3 million pro-tourism grant from Wake County to build his center. It’s expected to host tournaments, camps and training events.

“Everything’s still kind of up in the air,” Ammons said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

A necessary project

In 2012, Morrisville residents passed a bond referendum that included $14.3 million to extend McCrimmon Parkway.

The new parts of the road will go northeast from the intersection with N.C. 54, parallel with Perimeter Park Drive, then connect to an existing, unconnected part of McCrimmon that crosses Perimeter Park Drive. It would then swing back south to connect with Aviation Parkway at Evans Road.

It’s intended as a bypass for the congested N.C. 54, which is only two lanes throughout much of Morrisville, despite being one of the busiest roads in town.

But after going through some initial design phases, town staff realized the extension would be several million dollars over budget.

“We were looking at $17.3 million,” public works director Blake Mills said. “And we knew, ‘This is not gonna fly, we have to come up with a new plan.’”

The DOT heard about the town’s plans and, since it had its own plans scheduled for the same area, offered to partner up.

Now with the state’s help, the town has the option to deliver an even better road than initially planned, with more lanes and other road features.

The tradeoff is more time lost to additional paperwork, planning and contract negotiations.

Both Ammons and Morrisville town staff, however, said they think they’ll be able to come up with some way to accommodate the competition center while still pushing forward with the larger plan for McCrimmon Parkway.

Chiotakis told the town council he is “optimistic we are going to get it worked out” and that he and Ammons have been discussing options for interim access before the bigger road comes past the property.

“There’s a couple other options floating around out there, but I don’t want to get into any of those details just yet,” Ammons said.

The new plan will be broken up into phases. The northern part is now scheduled for completion in March 2018.

The southern part – the part whose completion is connected to the Western Wake Competition Center – wouldn’t be done for another two or three years after that, said Joe Hopkins, a DOT engineer who will be working on the project.

Despite the wait, Hopkins recently told the Morrisville town council that the project will be good for residents because Morrisville already has many congested roads that need help.

“And this will be the first step in that,” he said.

Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran