State could help pay for upgrades to Avent Ferry Road in Holly Springs

aspecht@newsobserver.comApril 2, 2014 

— Next month, Holly Springs will likely have a big chunk of the money it needs to upgrade the town’s busiest intersection.

At its meeting on May 1, the N.C. Board of Transportation is expected to consider granting Holly Springs $525,000 to help realign the intersection of Avent Ferry Road and the N.C. 55 Bypass.

The intersection is one of the Town Council’s top priorities. About 21,000 vehicles use Avent Ferry Road each day, though the road was designed to handle only 14,000 per day.

Holly Springs staff worked with the N.C. Department of Transportation earlier this year to craft a $1.6 million plan that aims to improve flow at the intersection by reducing the number of cars stuck at stop lights.

Though the intersection is in Holly Springs, it falls under the DOT’s jurisdiction.

The town’s collaboration with the state agency is the main reason those involved with the project expect the board to approve the funding without hesitation.

“I don’t foresee there being any obstacles,” said Wally Bowman, a division engineer for DOT. “There’s no reason for it not to be approved. So this is a good step one.”

Mayor Dick Sears, who serves on the transportation advisory committee for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, agreed.

“It’s pretty much a slam dunk at this point,” Sears said.

Holly Springs plans to pay about $600,000 of the cost and hopes the state General Assembly will pay for the rest.

Sears said he talked with Rep. Nelson Dollar and Sen. Tamara Barringer about the project. They couldn’t be reached for comment.

The town will have to reassess its funding options and may need to postpone the upgrades if the General Assembly doesn’t offer financial help, Town Manager Chuck Simmons said.

The General Assembly reconvenes in May.

The improvement plan would change the way commuters cross the bypass on Avent Ferry Road. Driving straight would be prohibited.

The intersection would be realigned so that drivers on Avent Ferry must turn right onto the bypass, make a U-turn at a cut-through and then turn right to get to the other side of the intersection.

Traffic at the intersection is often congested in the mornings because some commuters seek to turn left onto the bypass from the southern side of it, while a long line of parents and students drive across the bypass to get to the schools on the southern side.

Engineers also plan to add an extra right-turn lane on southbound N.C. 55 to lessen traffic back-ups that typically occur in the evenings as many drivers turn right onto Avent Ferry Road.

The plan will “move traffic through the corridor much more efficiently,” Bowman said.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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