N.C. 54 bypass project in Morrisville moves forward

aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2014 

— Construction of the N.C. 54 bypass could begin in April 2016, according to the latest projections.

The $14.6 million project, which is being funded by voter-approved bonds, is expected to ease traffic on one of Morrisville’s most-congested roadways. N.C. 54 is a popular route for commuters between Cary and Research Triangle Park.

The Morrisville Town Council on Tuesday approved a $1.7 million contract with consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates. The company will design and manage the 1.7-mile bypass project, which is known as the McCrimmon Parkway Extension.

When it’s complete, the extended McCrimmon Parkway will be a four-lane road from N.C. 54 to Aviation Parkway with medians, curbs and gutters.

The parkway will also provide connections to Airport Boulevard and Perimeter Park Drive, giving traffic alternate routes to N.C. 54.

Currently, drivers traveling south from the Perimeter Park area near N.C. 540 to Cary Parkway must take N.C 54, getting on the highway at Carrington Mill Boulevard or Perimeter Park Drive, said Ben Howell, Morrisville‘s transportation planner.

Once the McCrimmon Parkway Extension is open, drivers can take McCrimmon Parkway from Perimeter Park Drive to Aviation Parkway and continue on Evans Road to Cary Parkway, avoiding N.C. 54 completely, Howell said.

The Town Council could approve the bypass design in in May 2015, followed by right-of-way acquisition the next year. Construction is scheduled to start around April 2016 and be completed by July 2017, according to the time line presented to the council.

Councilman Michael Schlink said he wants to see the project completed as soon as possible because it will open up development in one of the town’s largest remaining tracts of unused land.

“I think it promotes the growth and development that contributes to the town’s tax base and image as a well-planned livable community,” Schlink said. “It’s going to open that last 25 percent of the town.”

Because most of the land is in the overlay zone of Raleigh-Durham International Airport, development is mostly limited to commercial and industrial.

Schlink said he hopes another major corporation, similar to computer giant Lenovo in Morrisville, will move into the area.

“It’s the kind of growth we said we wanted. I envision it looking like Weston Parkway (in Cary),” Schlink said.

A potential development is an indoor recreational facility that would feature an ice rink and volleyball courts. The project is in the running to receive funding from Wake County hotel and prepared-food tax money.

Higher-than-expected price

The design bids for the bypass came in higher than expected because the town added project management and additional studies and surveys.

Morrisville set aside $1.2 million for the design. The gap of about $467,000 will come from the town’s fund balance and will be repaid once the bonds are sold.

Adding the project management on the front end could save the town money in the long run by helping to control costs, according to town staff and council members.

“I like the idea of moving project management forward,” said Councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson. “It does help solidify the project and give it a good start.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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