01/16/13 — Royall Avenue widening project to begin soon

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Royall Avenue widening project to begin soon

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 16, 2013 1:46 PM

Work is under way to relocate utilities, including water and gas lines, on Royall Avenue in advance of a $400,000 project to widen the road to three lanes from Sunburst Drive to North Berkeley Boulevard.

That initial work is expected to take four to six weeks, meaning that the widening could be started by mid-to-late February. The construction will take another four to six weeks after that to be completed.

"As busy as that road is, we want to minimize the time that we are out there," said Chris Pendergraph, state Department of Transportation district engineer.

The use of on-call contracts is allowing the state to get the project off to a fast start, he said. Those contracts are normally used for building turn lanes and paving dirt roads, but also provide flexibility for projects such as this one, Pendergraph said.

Utilities are being move to accommodate new piping, Pendergraph said.

The widening project originally had been planned as the addition of a left turn lane on Royall Avenue at Sunburst Drive leading to Target. However, the opportunity arose to go ahead and three-lane Royall Avenue between Sunburst and North Berkeley Boulevard, he said.

"It had been on the drawing board for 10 years, held up by negotiations with the railroad," he said.

Royall Avenue is also multi-laned at its intersection with Spence Avenue near Walmart, but there are no plans to connect the two ends, Pendergraph said.

There is just not enough development along the remaining two-lane stretch to justify the effort at this particular moment in time, he said.

Also, the project will not affect plans to widen North Berkeley Boulevard by adding another southbound lane from New Hope Road to the area of Berkeley Commons.

There are already two northbound lanes.

There is no timetable yet for the estimated $2.3 million joint state-city project.

At the moment it is on hold until the city completes right-of-way acquisition, Pendergraph said.