07/22/12 — Highway improvements to begin

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Highway improvements to begin

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 22, 2012 1:50 AM

Highway improvement projects designed to ease traffic backups caused by left-turning traffic are expected to get under way within the next few weeks on Central Heights Road and Wayne Memorial Drive at Tommy's Road, while a third project, this one on Royall Avenue, should begin around the first of September.

The total cost of the three projects is approximately $850,000.

The work on Central Heights Road and Wayne Memorial Drive is near Eastern Wayne Middle and Tommy's Road Elementary schools, respectively. As such, state Department of Transportation officials are hopeful those projects will be completed before classes resume on Aug. 27.

"We are trying to get started on both before school starts," DOT District 3 engineer Chris Pendergraph said.

The addition of a turn lane on Central Heights Road in front of Eastern Wayne Middle School should take two to three weeks at a cost of about $150,000, he said.

The project is a a joint effort by the city and Wayne County Public Schools, he said. The DOT has had to wait on the project until work was completed on driveways at the school, part of a $6.5 million construction and renovation project there.

"(The turn lane) will not take a tremendous amount of time," Pendergraph said. "It will take just a couple of weeks to finish."

The addition of turn lanes on Wayne Memorial Drive could take a little longer and might not be completed before the first day of class, he said.

Also, it will require brief road closures of no more than two days to lay pipe, Pendergraph said.

The project includes the addition of both left and right turn lanes on northbound Wayne Memorial Drive and a left turn lane on the southbound side.

The work is expected to take three to four weeks and should be completed by the end of August, Pendergraph said.

The $250,000 price tag will include curb and gutter.

Backed-up traffic at the Wayne Memorial Drive-Tommy's Road intersection has worsened, officials say, because of increasing development and changing traffic patterns -- especially since the opening of the first section of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass.

Local transportation officials were told during a meeting last fall that since the bypass section had opened that southbound traffic on Wayne Memorial Drive trying to turn left onto Tommy's Road at times was causing backups to the new highway's off ramp.

The Royall Avenue project is the largest and most costly, $450,000 to $500,000, of the three. It will three-lane the road between North Berkeley Boulevard and Sunburst Drive.

"It will take a couple of months, at least six weeks," Pendergraph said.

The DOT had been unable to schedule the work until it received approval from CSX Railroad whose tracks run parallel to the road.

That approval has just been received clearing the project to proceed, Pendergraph said. Approval was needed even though all of the work will be done on the north side of the road and not next to the railroad tracks, he said.

For westbound traffic, the work will add a left turn lane at Sunburst Drive where it crosses the railroad tracks and continues past Target -- the original intent of the project, he said.

"If the first person wants to turn left, everyone else has to wait," Pendergraph said. "I think this will help that corridor tremendously."

For eastbound traffic, the project will add a left turn at North Park Drive near Sam's Club. There is not enough left turn movement to warrant a left turn lane for eastbound traffic turning onto Sunburst Drive, Pendergraph said.