Eastern Wake News

Work on Zebulon’s Wakefield Street delayed

Water stands in the ditch in front of Whitley Park after a steady day of rain in Zebulon Thursday.
Water stands in the ditch in front of Whitley Park after a steady day of rain in Zebulon Thursday. amoody@newsobserver.com

Repaving along North Wakefield Street has been delayed until at least next year, a decision largely made with a view toward longevity.

Since the time a fresh blacktop was approved with the budget for the current year, town staff say residents of the flat-lying area have kept them alert to drainage issues during rainy spells.

The work that was planned for this coming spring included resurfacing, only. Considering the effects of poor drainage on new pavement, it made sense to postpone the Wakefield Street work, according to Public Works Director Chris Ray.

“We said, hey, we need to take a more comprehensive look at this,” Ray said. “That’s just not a wise investment of town dollars and we wanted to avoid that. It’s not a good use of limited resources.”

The decision was made easier when the town learned it needed extra money to overcome a recently-discovered setback to a more time-sensitive roadway project. The $85,000 tabbed for repaving North Wakefield, from West Gannon Avenue to Judd Street, was redirected earlier this month to help fill out the budget for a stormwater project on Yates Place that came in overbid.

There was still $30,000 left in the Wakefield Street project that was intended to be used for a preliminary engineering report ahead of the actual road work. That money will still be used to do some of the engineering, although with a reduced scope, following a decision by the town board Thursday.

The report will now provide an analysis of a natural crown on the roadway draining water into swales, instead of curb and gutter. It will also include the prospect of driveway and road culverts, and tapering on West Franklin Street where the road narrows. The Wooten Company’s revised proposal cost for the engineering study was $19,800.

Commissioner Dale Beck recommended that sidewalks, which were included in the original plans for the engineering study, be included in the restructured engineering report.

“I think we’d be short-sided if we don’t do that,” Beck said. “If you put swales in there and years later you want to come through and do sidewalks, I think this is putting us ahead of the game. This is part of the greenway plan also, and this area is walked quite heavily and that area can be quite dangerous also. I think we should put (sidewalks) in there and see what the numbers are.”

The town board agreed to add sidewalks back to the report so long as it does not push the total cost to more than the $30,000 originally designated for a PER. Ray expects the addition to cost closer to $2,000-2,500.

“We’re not going to come close to ($30,000),” Ray said. “It will be a minor adjustment to the report to look at do we have enough room to fit (sidewalks) in there.”

The study should take 90 days to complete, and with the board’s approval Thursday Ray said it should be ready in time for the project to be reconsidered with the onset of the upcoming budget season.

Where the water stands

The greatest drainage issues on Wakefield Street are on the west side in front of Whitley Park, and on the east side between West Franklin and West Lee streets and between North and West Glenn streets.

“It’s a matter of lack of ditch and lack of elevation,” Ray said. “We’ll be surveying to see where the natural grade falls, what existing infrastructure there is and where we can take the water. The big problem is the area is all generally more flat than other areas.”

As for paving, it hasn’t happened on Wakefield Street for at least 15 years.

“It’s time,” Ray said. “Typically roads need resurfacing within the 15-to-20 year mark depending on traffic flow and those types of things. There are a lot of utility cuts there, where City of Raleigh went in there two years ago to do a bunch of sewer upgrades. Those are fine – they don’t make the best in the world for ride quality – but there is significant cracking, such as alligator cracking, in other parts of the street.”