Southwest Wake News

New TriEx interchange to improve access to growing Apex, Holly Springs

Homes in the 12 Oaks subdivision in Holly Springs under construction in 2016.
Homes in the 12 Oaks subdivision in Holly Springs under construction in 2016.

In western Holly Springs, 72 new homes have been sold so far this year in 12 Oaks, a developing golf community a few miles south of where U.S. 1 meets the Triangle Expressway – averaging four-and-a-half home sales per week.

Home builders already have erected 610 homes since development began, and representatives of Landeavor, the Florida-based developer, expect the neighborhood to be built out in the next 24 to 36 months.

Twelve Oaks is selling a lot faster than they can build them,” said Kendra Parrish, the Town of Holly Springs’ engineering director. The demand, she said, can be attributed at least in part to the nearby Triangle Expressway, which connects Interstate 40 to the N.C. 55 Bypass.

The state’s first modern toll road is expected to generate even more growth in western Holly Springs and southern Apex when a new interchange is constructed just east of U.S. 1, adding access to the Triangle Expressway at Old Holly Springs-Apex Road.

Construction began on the $18.4 million project on April 4. It is on target to be open by mid-December, although additional work will be needed, such as vegetation planting, said Steve Abbott, N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman.

It’s the first new interchange along the Triangle Expressway since its final phase opened in 2013.

Old Holly Springs-Apex Road is a two-lane, rural road, surrounded by acres of undeveloped land. It carried fewer than 2,000 cars per day, as of 2010. By 2035, it will bear the load of nearly 35,000 vehicles, which will be due primarily to planned or anticipated development in southern Apex.

“(The interchange) will improve mobility for current traffic, as well as for much larger volumes of traffic anticipated within the next 10 years as a result of substantial growth/development,” Abbott said.

Growth in Apex

One anticipated project is the 1,100-acre Veridea development that is expected to bring millions of square feet of retail and office space along with 8,000 residential units north of the interchange.

Russell Dalton, the Town of Apex’s transportation engineer, said it would be almost impossible for Veridea to be developed as it is planned now without the interchange.

“It would be a front door from 540 into the Veridea development, so that’s very important to that project,” he said. “Without that, it’s just not very attractive for businesses to come and develop there.”

Apex also can attribute several other anticipated projects to growth prompted by the Triangle Expressway’s construction.

Dalton said the town had seen a lot of residential development in the western part of town, and more rooftops brought more retail and other anticipated mixed-use developments, including Sweetwater and Smith Farm.

The proposed Smith Farm development is a 270-acre mixed-use project. Developers plan to build 430 homes, 170 townhomes and 150 apartments on the land between Olive Chapel Road and U.S. 64, to the west of what will become the Sweetwater neighborhood.

Sweetwater, on 165 acres, will bring a combined 480 homes and townhomes, as well as non-residential construction, like restaurants, offices or shops. Construction is anticipated to begin soon.

Growth in Holly Springs

The new interchange will lie within Apex, but Holly Springs, to the south, will benefit just as much.

“There’s no downside for us,” Parrish said. “It could do good things for Holly Springs.”

Traffic has picked up on the N.C. 55 Bypass since the Triangle Expressway was connected to it in 2013. The connection increased traffic on the bypass, providing additional exposure to an already growing area.

This ultimately led to the development of Holly Springs Towne Center, which now has 30 stores, including a Target, off the bypass.

More commercial and residential development, plus commuters using the N.C. 55 bypass as a cut-through route, has resulted in a heavy traffic during rush hour on that road. Traffic congestion in town has since become one of the biggest concerns of residents and the Town Council.

But the new interchange could pull some cars off the N.C. 55 bypass between the expressway and New Hill Road. For example, 12 Oaks residents could get off the expressway at the new interchange – reducing their trip by several minutes and keeping them off the bypass entirely.

The interchange also will spark investment in western Holly Springs by encouraging more residential and commercial development in the area, where there are still many large pieces of undeveloped land. It also may make existing subdivisions in the area more accessible and desirable, Parrish said.

The town already is in discussions with developers looking to build large, multi-family projects along Old Holly Springs-Apex Road in anticipation of the new interchange, Parrish said.

“We had a developer looking at a tract of land, and it was near there,” she said. “He was going to be able to market his subdivision as minutes from the new interchange to get on 540 to get to (Research Triangle Park).”

Because of the substantial, anticipated growth in western Holly Springs, Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears has encouraged land owners in the area to hold onto it as demand increases for property near the new interchange.

“If you have land around that area, hold onto it for awhile, because your prices should escalate dramatically,” he said. “I would love to have 100 acres right there.”

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon