03/18/13 — Royall Avenue roadwork could cause one-lane traffic

View Archive

Royall Avenue roadwork could cause one-lane traffic

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 18, 2013 1:46 PM

Periods of possible one-lane traffic and slowdowns on Royall Avenue between Sunburst Drive and North Berkeley Boulevard can be expected to continue over the next several months and into the summer.

However, those should be relatively minor in scope, said Chris Pendergraph, state Department of Transportation District 3 engineer.

Work is under way to relocate utilities on that stretch of Royall Avenue in advance of a $400,000 project to widen it to three lanes.

It is uncertain how long the relocation will require since the work is being done by the utility companies, Pendergraph said. The actual road work could take between four to eight weeks, he said.

"It is probably going to take longer to move the utilities than it is to build the project," Pendergraph said.

The project started out as the addition of a left turn lane on Royall Avenue at Sunburst Drive leading to Target. The plan had been on the books for a number of years, but had been unable to move ahead because of stalled negotiations with the railroad company.

As the planning and negotiations progressed, the opportunity arose to three-lane Royall Avenue between Sunburst Drive and North Berkeley Boulevard.

"Right now we could possibly get started (widening) maybe a little before June, maybe in the May time frame," Pendergraph said. "But most likely it is going to be mid-summer."

Because of the railroad right-of-way the bulk of the underground utilities, what Pendergraph calls "just about everything," are located on the northern side of Royall Avenue.

"So the problem is that you basically have two shoulders worth of utilities all squeezed on one side," he said. "In this scheme of things, that road is completely on railroad right-of-way. DOT actually doesn't even have a right-of-way there. We are just like another utility owner on that. So our easiest path of least resistance was to widen the road toward the north away from the railroad tracks.

"That is the majority of the reason this project has been going on for quite some time. We finally got approved from the railroad when we revised the plan to widen only on the north side of Royal Avenue. The problem with that is that it is widening right on top of all the utilities out there. So basically everything that is in the ground has to move -- there is gas, there is sewer, there is water."

Some utility poles and overhead lines will have to be moved as well, he said.

Pendergraph said he did not think any lines under the road would be replaced and as such a full detour is not expected.

"A majority of our widening can probably be done with little impact to traffic," he said. "I am sure there will be some, but not a terrible amount."

There are no plans to extend the three-laning from Sunburst to the existing multiple lanes at Royall Avenue's intersection with Spence Avenue near Walmart.

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

The project will not affect plans to widen North Berkeley Boulevard, he said.

That $2.3 million project will add another southbound lane from New Hope Road to the area of Berkeley Commons. There are already two northbound lanes.

It is a joint project of the city and state. The holdup has been the city's difficulty in acquiring the right-of-way acquisition.