Holly Springs is seeking federal money for a road project that could help cool the Town’s worst traffic hot spot and also reduce congestion on N.C. 55 through downtown Fuquay-Varina.
Extending Main Street in Holly Springs across the highway to Piney Grove Wilbon Road would provide a badly-needed connection through southwest Holly Springs. That should alleviate some of the pressure near N.C. 55 and Avent Ferry Road, the Town’s top traffic priority.
Officials in southern Wake and also Harnett County envision regional benefits. The project would enhance Piney Grove Wilbon Road as an alternate route for the portion of N.C. 55 that passes through downtown Fuquay-Varina.
“It’s a good regional connection and would help alleviate congestion on Avent Ferry Road,” said Kendra Parrish, senior engineer for the Town of Holly Springs.
Whether the road gets built in the next couple of years depends largely on how a committee of the region’s mayors, transportation officials and other representatives allocate federal transportation funds. The group, known as the Transportation Advisory Committee for the Capital Area, could decide in May.
Carl Dean, Holly Springs’ town manager, said that Fuquay-Varina, Harnett County and Angier have expressed support for the project. It would benefit efforts to deal with traffic issues regionally, he added.
“We’ve learned a lot from our neighbors that it’s better to be proactive when dealing with public infrastructure issues,” Dean said.
Holly Springs is seeking $5.2 million in federal funds for the extension of Main Street – 80 percent of the $6.5 million total projected cost. The Town would provide the remainder, about $1.3 million.
With federal funding, construction could start in late 2014 or 2015. Without it, Main Street might not be extended before 2020.
Already, the federal government is substantially invested in the Main Street Extension project. Federal funds paid 80 percent of the cost of choosing an alignment. A second federal grant provides 80 percent of the cost of acquiring permits, assembling right-of-way, and completing design. All of that should be wrapped up by early next year, Parrish said.
The project is in the state’s Transportation Improvement Program covering 2012-2020, although funding for construction is not included. The Main Street Extension project includes 3,000 feet of new roadway, plus improvement to 4,000 feet of existing roads.
No homes are in the path of the planned road extension. The project would not have any significant impact on natural, cultural, recreational, historic or other resources as defined by the Federal Highway Administration.
A new roadway connection is needed to the southwest, where much of Holly Springs’ growth is projected to occur. Congestion on Avent Ferry Road has worsened in recent years with the addition of homes, schools and shopping centers in the vicinity. The connection is also critical for the regional traffic that travels from Harnett County and southern Wake through Holly Springs.
Avent Ferry Road currently carries an average of 21,000 vehicles a day, although roads like it are meant to handle only 10,000 to 15,000. Traffic on Avent Ferry Road is expected to more than double by 2035.
The Main Street extension could reduce by a third the amount of traffic on Avent Ferry Road that turns left onto N.C. 55, Parrish said.
Currently in mornings, northbound traffic that uses Piney Grove Wilbon Road to reach N.C. 55 must first turn right onto a congested Avent Ferry Road. Then drivers turn left onto the highway. With Main Street extended, they could proceed more directly to N.C. 55 and turn at a widened Main Street intersection.
In evenings, the extension would have similar traffic distribution benefits for returning commuters on N.C. 55.
A complete solution to the traffic congestion on Avent Ferry Road would require millions of dollars, Parrish said.
“However, with this cost beneficial improvement of a short connection to aid in vehicle distribution, we will see a good portion of the problem addressed,” Parrish said.
In addition to Main Street Extension, the Town of Holly Springs continues seeking money to widen Avent Ferry Road to four lanes. Widening from N.C. 55 to Piney Grove Wilbon Road is under design. However, money for construction has not yet been found.