Published: Jul 28, 2012 12:45 PM
Modified: Jul 28, 2012 12:45 PM
Morrisville: Bond money bound for N.C. 54 bottleneck
November ballot will include proposed $20 million in spending
MORRSIVLLE - Starting around 7:30 a.m, commuters know what to expect as they drive east on Morrisville Carpenter Road: bumper to bumper traffic.Vehicles stack up about half a mile back from the intersection N.C. 54 and Chapel Hill Road as drivers often wait two or three traffic-light cycles to cross.Morrisville leaders hope voters will approve a $20 million bond referendum, which includes $14.3 million to ease traffic on N.C. 54 and another $5.7 million for parks. The council agreed Tuesday to put the proposed spending on the November ballot. To alleviate traffic, the town plans to build 1.7 miles of new roadway that would extend McCrimmon Parkway from N.C. 54 to Airport Boulevard and end at Evans Road. The section between Airport Boulevard and Evans Road would be a two-lane road with sidewalks on each side. Traffic and transportation are the No. 1 issues here in Morrisville, Councilwoman Liz Johnson said. This whole region is growing. Morrisville is smack dab in the middle between one of the largest residential communities (Cary) and the largest economic engines we have in the region, and thats Research Triangle Park.Johnson said the McCrimmon extension will serve as an alternative for drivers who use N.C. 54 to bypass the bottlenecks in the heart of town, especially near Morrisville Carpenter Road.The bypass isnt the only project in the works to help reduce traffic on N.C. 54. Morrisville, Cary and the N.C. Department of Transportation have partnered to conduct a comprehensive study of the highway, Johnson said. The question the public needs to answer is do you want to invest in Morrisville or not? Johnson said. Personally for me, the answer is yes.If voters approve the spending for roads and parks, property owners would see a tax increase of between 3 cents and 6 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to the latest town estimates.During Tuesdays public hearing, several residents spoke out against the bond projects for the McCrimmon extension. They questioned the cost to taxpayers and effectiveness of the bypass.Homeowner T.J. Cawley said the bypass would likely only benefit the businesses that would move in along the extension. As a citizen, I would like to see developers bear the brunt of the cost, Cawley said. I dont see a reason to make this economic gift ... unless there is some mechanism for recovering the cost of the road.Developers in the area are currently working on an agreement to donate right-of-way to Morrisville, a move that could save the town money, according to officials. Morrisville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carlotta Ungaro said she supports the bond referendum, especially for the McCrimmon Parkway Extension. The road is hard to get through, she said. Allowing another alternative will help to relieve the traffic there. As for parks spending, Morrisville Aquatics and Fitness Center would see renovations, and phase three of Morrisville Community Park would be completed.The vote to send the bond to the fall ballot was 5-0. Council members Mark Stohlman and Michael Schlink were absent due to other obligations.