The state Department of Transportation plans to widen N.C. 54, but it might not be as wide as originally expected.
A recent study found the road will have 10 percent to 20 percent less traffic than originally anticipated, Morrisville Transportation Planner Benjamin Howell said.
“It appears we can get away with a four-lane road in a lot of the sections instead of a six-lane road, like we were afraid of,” Howell said during a Morrisville Town Council meeting Tuesday.
The town had considered widening the two-lane road to six lanes between N.C. 540 and Weston Parkway.
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Howell later said that making the road four lanes will save time and money on the state-run project. It will also require smaller right-of-way acquisitions and smaller intersections.
Morrisville will host a public session this winter so residents can share their opinions about the project. There’s no timetable yet for when construction would begin.
The lowered traffic predictions will not affect any plans for the N.C. 54 Bypass, Howell said.
Consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates is expected to create detailed road designs for the bypass by next June. Construction is set to start in early 2016 and wrap up by August 2017.
The Town Council heard an update Thursday about construction projects throughout town. Morrisville sees plenty of traffic jams as commuters head to nearby Cary and Research Triangle Park.
While work is expected to wrap up in late September on Morrisville Carpenter Road, Howell said, another delay will pop up on Aviation Parkway.
The road will be reduced to one lane from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15-20 near the intersection with N.C. 54. Two lanes will be open until the spring.
An ongoing grade separation at Morrisville Parkway will cause some lane closures, but the work currently being done near Town Hall Drive should be finished by October, he said.
Then, work on the parkway will move to an area behind the Preston neighborhood. Howell warned council members that they might hear complaints from neighbors, and that people with concerns should contact him.
He said he has already spoken with the homeowners association and some real-estate agents about the work, and he hopes that will pre-empt many complaints.
The major project on Morrisville Parkway won’t be until next year, when the road will be closed for six months near the railroad tracks.
There will be detours while the road is rebuilt under a new railroad bridge – a project intended to increase safety and reduce congestion.
Plans for pedestrians, cyclists
There are also plans in the works to improve pedestrian safety.
The Cotten Place subdivision will install a crosswalk at its main entrance to Cedar Fork District Park across the street.
There won’t be a traffic signal, but Howell said there will be a pedestrian median for people to wait safely in the road for a chance to cross.
The town is also set to begin construction on a sidewalk on Church Street, heading south from Cedar Fork Elementary School to Treybrook Drive.
Construction on the Shiloh Greenway South was recently completed, opening up another option for walkers, runners and bicyclists.
Councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson said the Triangle J Council of Governments is working to develop a detailed app on the intensity of roads in the area, which should be useful to cyclists.
She said the app, which will hopefully be done within a year, will include information such as the presence and steepness of hills, and amenities along the route.