HOLLY SPRINGS — The town has won millions of dollars in federal grants for an effort to ease congestion near Avent Ferry Road and the N.C. 55 bypass, considered by town staff to be Holly Springs' worst traffic hotspot.
A $5.2 million grant, awarded earlier this month, will pay 80 percent of the construction cost for the Main Street Extension. The project won the lion's share of the federal money distributed by N.C. Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a coalition of regional elected officials.
"Whew, that felt good," said Stephanie Sudano, director of engineering for Holly Springs.
Set to begin construction next year, the extension will connect Main Street to Piney Grove-Wilbon Road. In effect, drivers coming north on Piney Grove-Wilbon will have a straight shot up to the N.C. 55 bypass, rather than navigating Avent Ferry Road to the highway.
In all, the project will include 3,000 feet of new pavement in the form of two connections between Ralph Stevens Road and Piney Grove-Wilbon Road, plus 4,000 feet of road improvements. The change should reduce traffic at the intersection of Avent Ferry Road and the bypass, but the road has already passed its intended capacity.
Traffic in southern Holly Springs is a top concern for town officials. New development, already booming, is expected to line the still-rural area with new houses and shopping centers.
The new road improvements also will ease traffic coming from Harnett County and other points south, according to town staff.
"I think it's a really good project and a regional partnership," Sudano said.
The project already had received about $2 million in federal grants prior to this month's award, covering 80 percent of pre-construction costs.
Now the town is hoping for money for another project in the same area. A widening of Avent Ferry Road would make it a four-lane median-divided road between the bypass and Avent Ferry's intersection with Piney-Grove Wilbon Road.
That project didn't win construction funding this year but already has received grants for design.
Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary