North Carolina’s Department of Transportation has offered to cooperate with the town on improvements to the intersection of N.C. 401, Sunset Lake Road and Purfoy Road – improvements the town wouldn’t have gotten to for another 12 to 18 months.
The town is scheduled to receive a transportation grant in October. It had planned to use to repave and expand the intersection. Having already finished repaving a nearby section of N.C. 401, the DOT now will take care of repaving and re-striping the roadway, known as Sunset Lake Road north of N.C. 401 and Purfoy Road to the south. The DOT’s contract means the improvements will happen by November at the latest, but Town Manager Adam Mitchell said officials have indicated they intend to begin work within the next few weeks.
“We knew were going to resurface Sunset Lake and Purfoy,” Town Manager Adam Mitchell said. “And we knew if they came and resurfaced (401) we’d be tearing that out with our project, which sounded like a waste of money to us.”
Sunset Lake and Purfoy roads will each have two left-turn lanes, onto N.C. 401 North and N.C. 401 South, respectively, where there had been just one. That decision was based on a study done by town consultants that revealed potentially more efficient lane usages. That data also will inform the DOT’s re-calibration of the traffic signals at the intersection.
After the DOT finishes its work, it will still be up to the town to install pedestrian signals and negotiate concrete medians with surrounding businesses.
This is only one portion of a larger project the town had planned for the area. Mitchell said the town will still be responsible for the completion of the second phase of the project, which deals with backed-up traffic on Sunset Lake Road north of the railroad tracks and toward Broad Street. That will require separate design and construction contracts, as well as the acquisition of right-of-way from property owners along that stretch.
Fuquay-Varina, based on the terms of its 2015 bond referendum, had planned to pay for all $850,000 of the improvements at the intersection itself, but a $5.3 million grant from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meant the town would only be responsible for about $172,000 of that cost. Due to the DOT’s involvement, the town could pay even less, Mitchell said.
“This partnership showed a very efficient and fluid form of government,” Mayor John Byrne said. “We’ll only be fixing this area really one time.”
In other business
▪ Commissioners unanimously passed a budget ordinance Monday for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The spending bill, which includes a 4.75-cent property tax increase, will bring the town’s tax rate up from second-lowest in the county to somewhere closer to the middle of the pack, pending the passage of other towns’ budgets. Fuquay-Varina residents will pay 43.25 cents per $100 valuation.
Expenditures from Fuquay-Varina’s two major funds, its general fund and water and sewer fund, will total about $37.1 million next year. The budget would add 14 full-time employees to the town’s payroll and increase one part-time employee’s pay to full-time. Those new hires include four more positions in both the police and fire departments.
Water and sewer fees will increase, as will the cost of new connections to the town’s water and sewer lines by $500 each.
▪ The town’s capital improvement plan, also approved Monday, indicates the town would need another tax increase in the next three years to service debt on its fourth fire station. That increase could be as many as 3 cents, although Mitchell said conservative budgeting and growth projections made it “certainly unlikely” the increase would end up being that high.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan