Surveying and design is beginning on a project to lessen traffic congestion at the intersection of N.C. 55 and Avent Ferry Road so that construction can begin next June.
Fast-tracking the new lanes and medians and signal light changes means that the reconfigured intersection could be finished by December 2015. The main purpose is to speed left turns from Avent Ferry Road during the morning rush and right turns onto it in the afternoon.
“This is the Town’s top priority transportation project,” Engineering Director Stephanie Sudano said July 23. “As soon as funding for design and construction was secured, we moved forward on a very aggressive schedule.”
The state is paying for nearly two-thirds of the $1.6 million project. The Town intends to borrow for the remainder.
Changes to the intersection of N.C. 55 and Avent Ferry Road require approval from the N.C. Department of Transportation since both roads are part of the state system.
“Town staff will be meeting with NCDOT very shortly in order to kick off the partnership that will be necessary to push the project plans through the NCDOT review and approval process as expeditiously as possible,” Sudano said.
With the redesign, traffic turning left onto northbound N.C. 55 will get more green light time. A new “free flow” lane will allow highway traffic turning right onto Avent Ferry Road to avoid stopping at the intersection. The free flow lane should alleviate backups on N.C. 55 during evening rush hours.
To improve the most popular traffic movements, changes to other movements will be needed. For example, a motorist driving from Holly Springs High School en route to downtown would turn right onto N.C. 55 and make a U-turn to reach Avent Ferry Road on the other side of the bypass.
In a few months after sufficient engineering work is done, the Town plans to hold a public information session to explain how the reconfigured intersection will function.
State funding for the project is a combination of legislative appropriations and DOT spot safety project funds. Town Manager Charles Simmons said that state Sen. Tamara Barringer, Senate leader Phil Berger, state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata were instrumental in securing state funds.
Approximately $600,000 in Town funds for the intersection project are included in an estimated $19 million that the Town will borrow for a group of high priority projects.
The Town Council plans to vote in early September on how to borrow the money, most likely by selling municipal bonds. No property tax increase will be needed for the projects, which include a multi-sports stadium and a new police station.
The $19 estimate includes $2.4 million for a second project that should help traffic flow on Avent Ferry Road – extension of Main Street westward to Piney Grove Wilbon Road.
Construction of Main Street Extension is expected to start around February 2015 and be finished by mid-2016.