As cold and wet winter weather puts road construction on hold, town officials have started looking ahead to the work that can begin this spring.
Benjamin Howell, the town’s traffic planner, told Morrisville leaders Tuesday, Nov. 24, that some road crews may be out in the first week or two of December, but most work likely won’t resume until February, at the earliest.
Howell gave officials a rundown of several projects to expect this spring, as well as updates on road plans reaching five years out from now.
This spring will be busy. The town is expecting to begin building new sidewalks along Church Street once the weather warms up, Howell said, with a goal of getting construction wrapped up before summer.
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Sometime between February and April, crews will shut down a portion of Morrisville Parkway so a railroad bridge can be built over the road.
The road closure will force traffic to detour around the construction site – near the back end of Park West Village – for about six months. Once it’s open again, traffic no longer will need to stop for passing trains.
As for other road projects, Howell said he had some good news for the future.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is helping Morrisville complete an extension of McCrimmon Parkway to serve as a bypass around N.C. 54. The state’s portion was originally scheduled for 2021, but it was recently pushed up to 2018, Howell said.
The road, once complete, will open up about 400 acres of developable land. It will extend to Aviation Parkway at Evans Road.
At least one project already has been announced for the area. The Western Wake Competition Center, an athletics project with a focus on gymnastics, hockey and other indoor sports, will begin construction once the McCrimmon extension is finished.
“That’s a very good thing for us,” Howell said of advancing the timeline three years.
The state is fast-tracking a plan to widen N.C. 54, too.
Work will start in 2020, about a year or two earlier than previously scheduled. The widening will be between N.C. 540 and Perimeter Park Drive.
Howell said the project had been subject to potential cancellation once before, but now the state has guaranteed that it will happen.
In other business, the council talked about how to consolidate the town’s resident-led committee system. Morrisville has eight citizen advisory committees. They cover topics ranging from town planning to recreation, public safety and issues facing senior citizens.
But community participation has been on the decline, leaving officials seeking solutions.
They took a step forward by dissolving the Community Appearance Committee, which has struggled in recent years to attract enough members to officially hold meetings and conduct business, officials said. There are only three members. The town attempted to recruit new members to the committee this year, but were unsuccessful.
Town leaders have invited the three members to join a different committee.
The town council spotlighted another committee that has been active in the community. The Morrisville Environment and Recycling Committee, or MERC, presented the winners of its recent poster contest. The winning posters will be displayed at Town Hall.
“Thank you all for being so environmentally friendly and making sure your parents all recycle, right?” Mayor Mark Stohlman told the winners.
For the contest, local elementary school students learned about the benefits of recycling and saving energy, then turned that education into art. The results were colorful, straightforward and sometimes even a little foreboding.
“Save yourself,” implores the poster made by Avni Choudepally, who won second place at the kindergarten level.
Some posters also show an advanced understanding of emerging technology and green power, like posters with depictions of windmills and solar panels powering skyscrapers. The grand prize winning poster, by third-grader Saachi Arun, depicts a number of alternative energy sources under a scene of a happy family standing beneath a rainbow.
“When not in use, turn off the light,” the poster says. It continues, “Maximize the use of solar power, wind power, hydro power, light sensors and smart devices, energy saving bulbs and energy-saving appliances.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran