09/01/09 — Berkeley Boulevard widening, signal project take steps

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Berkeley Boulevard widening, signal project take steps

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 1, 2009 1:46 PM

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Jay McInnis of the Department of Transportation answers questions during an information session on the proposed Berkeley Boulevard road widening Monday. The proposal includes widening Berkeley Boulevard into a five-lane road between Royall Avenue and New Hope Road.

Traffic woes along Wayne Memorial Drive, Ash Street and Berkeley Boulevard might be alleviated by early 2011, City Manager Joe Huffman said, thanks to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

DOT announced Monday it had signed several contracts, including one for a $4 million project that involves installation of a new computer signal system in Goldsboro.

The project includes upgrading all traffic control equipment, installing fiber optic cable and video cameras to monitor traffic.

Huffman said officials at City Hall are "really excited" about the announcement and that work on the new system could begin as early as this month.

"This has been a major priority for the city for some time now," he said. "I could be wrong, but from what I have been told, we are the largest city in the state that doesn't have a computerized signal system."

And it is necessary, he added, to reduce congestion across town.

"We are really hoping that this will help with some of the traffic ... in the city around Ash Street, Berkeley Boulevard and Wayne Memorial Drive," Huffman said.

But installation of the new system will not simply improve the quality of life in the city, he added. It will also put another person on its payroll.

"They are advertising that position now," Huffman said. "We're required to hire certain personnel."

The advertisement calls for a signal system maintenance supervisor and the duties include supervision of technicians engaged in the installation, repair and maintenance of a computerized traffic signal system and related control devices and systems.

The person hired will also be responsible for scheduling, supervision of and participation in all facets of the operation and maintenance of the signal system; inspecting the work of technicians for compliance with applicable specifications, standards, codes, and ordinances; performing administrative duties; troubleshooting the signal system; coordinating new signal installation with appropriate agencies, and investigating malfunctions.

Those interesting in learning more about the position should contact City Hall.

The contract for the project was awarded to Infrasource Underground Construction Services LLC of Atlanta.

Huffman acknowledged that the project would take some time, but said he doesn't expect the upgrade to cause any headaches for commuters.

"I could be wrong but I think its going to be fairly painless," he said.

Several hours after DOT made its announcement, department staff were in Goldsboro talking about another local project that aims to reduce traffic and congestion -- the proposed widening of Berkeley Boulevard.

Maps diagramming the proposal, which calls for the widening of Berkeley to five lanes between Royall Avenue and New Hope Road, were on display and project development engineer Jay McInnis was on hand to answer questions from those who live in the area.

Most of the residents -- roughly a dozen showed up during the first hour of the information session -- were concerned about how the proposed construction might impact their property.

McInnis told them that some land, approximately 10 feet on either side of Berkeley, would need to be acquired by the city or state to allow for construction of the proposed right of way and sidewalks.

City Planning Director Randy Guthrie said land acquisition would not likely start until next year and construction would begin in November 2010 if the process moves according to plan.

Once completed, the widening project would tie into several goals set by the City Council, he added.

Installation of sidewalks would make the city more walkable and the new lanes would help reduce congestion and traffic in the area and "tie in well with the new bypass."

The most recent cost estimate for the project is $2.75 million.