05/24/09 — City street projects planned, waiting on money

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City street projects planned, waiting on money

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on May 24, 2009 2:00 AM

Goldsboro likely will have the funding it needs to continue some street improvement projects as scheduled -- primarily one that could ease wait times at some city lights, officials say.

The city expects to receive federal stimulus funding to pay for 79 percent of the stoplight signalization project, allowing officials to place about $1.6 million originally designated for the project back into the general fund, easing some of the pressure during a tight budget crunch.

The city is on track to begin accepting bids for the signalization project in August, Planning Director Randy Guthrie said.

Drivers shouldn't expect any serious interruptions when workers do begin to install the new computerized system, a process that is still many months in the future. While the technicians might have to pause signal lights at some intersections to install the new equipment, for the most part it should be quick and painless, Guthrie said.

And drivers will likely save time and gasoline once the new computerized system is in place.

"They (drivers) should see a substantial difference in wait times," he said.

Although the city is looking at ways of funding other projects using stimulus money and has applied to receive more of it, there will likely not be enough to complete all of the planned street improvement projects.

"There really is not enough stimulus money available for our area," Guthrie said. "Our division got about $40 million. You can't do but so much."

However, if there is any money left from the $3.5 million in street bonds that will pay for Goldsboro's 21 percent share of the signalization project, the excess could be used for other improvements.

The Cashwell Drive extension is one project that, when completed, could have a major impact on traffic around Ash Street and Berkeley Boule-vard, Guthrie said.

"Cashwell will connect and provide an alternate route to and from 70," he said.

It will also open up land beyond Cashwell Drive to further development, including the Oak Forest area, and might help relieve morning and afternoon traffic congestion near Greenwood Elementary School.

"It only has frontage on Ash Street, so all the cars have to come on Ash, all the buses have to come on Ash," Guthrie said.

The Cashwell Drive extension would provide an alternate route for reaching the school and would pass directly by it.

"We have talked to the school system and worked out the general plan that they will allow us right of way across their property," he said.

The long-term construction plans for Berkeley Boulevard are fairly extensive and expensive.

"Ultimately, the plans call for additional lanes to be built from Royall all the way to the new bypass," Guthrie said.

One of the new lanes would be a dedicated right turn lane from Berkeley Boulevard onto Royall Avenue to help ease congestion and bottlenecking of the intersection.

Since the new U.S. 70 bypass is some years in the future, officials decided to split the project into two sections, making it more manageable.

"We divided the project up into two, to try to get it going between Royall to New Hope Road," Guthrie said.

The city also hopes to realign Berkeley Boulevard, Central Heights and Royall Avenue so the intersection of the roads will match up correctly.

However, while the plans are in place, money will determine when the projects proceed.

"Obviously, the key is funding," Guthrie said.