Improvements to Potters Road/Pleasant Plains intersection approved for next year
by Saja Hindi
Residents of Stallings will be seeing changes to the Potters Road/Pleasant Plains Road intersection in the coming year. The Stallings Town Council voted unanimously to approve moving $2 million forward for the project and will put the engineering and design part of the project out to bid. The state is expected to reimburse the town for the Department of Transportation’s portion of the project.
“The board had already put it in our CIP that we were going to do the project so I think it honestly will help the citizens quicker because we’ll get it on the road, get the improvements done and we’ll see better traffic flow,” Town Manager Brian Matthews said after the meeting.
In the meeting Monday night, Matthews gave the council an overview on the project and updates on discussions with Kimley Horn and Associates, Inc., the town’s consultant for the Stallings Downtown Vision Plan. These talks included improvements to the intersections from sewer improvements to landscaping, among others.
Matthews said the project had been on hold for a while because the town and Kimley Horn had discussions with North Carolina Department of Transportation about the option of doing a single lane roundabout for that intersection as opposed to the standard intersection improvement – additional turn lanes.
“We argued certain traffic conditions and rerouting of traffic may allow a roundabout to work for a longer period of time than what the DOT estimated,” he said. “However, as of our conference call last week, the DOT has formally take the position that they not support a one single lane roundabout at that location.”
According to Matthews, the DOT representative said he would support a dual roundabout, which the town representatives don’t feel is suitable for that location. What the DOT will support, he said, is intersection improvements – additional turn lanes at all four approaches – possibly a right turn lane at one approach, but definitely left turn lanes on all four approaches, which includes a longer storage left turn lane on the section, which is Pleasant Plains Road as it comes into Potters Road.
The DOT representative, Matthews said, also wanted the town to consider combining its streetscape funded project with the state’s spot safety money to complete the project as one. The state’s funding is specifically for Potters Road and intersection improvements if the town decided to do them, he said.
But, while the state’s money is allocated for 2013, the town’s money is allocated for 2014.
The council’s decision to combine the project means it would advance the funds necessary to do the work for about one year and the state would then reimburse the town in 2014 for the DOT portion of the project.
Money solely for the construction of the project comes out to $2 million with the state’s portion being 1.6 million and town’s portion being $40,000. The state also has an additional $800,000 of spot safety money, specifically for the intersection itself. The town would then have to come up with money for engineering and design, estimated to be around $700,000, $300,000 being out of pocket expenses, for the town’s portion, Matthews told the council.
“I honestly think that because this is part of our streetscape downtown master plan project. it’s a good idea to pursue combining the projects and doing improvements to the intersection, as well as doing improvements to Potters Road as one project because I think it would be completely disruptive to tear up the intersection and then two years later or a year and a half later, tear up all the roadway around the interestion just improving Potters Road,” he said.
The council had already allocated $2 million for improvements to the road in its Capital Improvement Plan, so the board’s vote only advances the money forward, with reimbursement from the state, after a formal municipal agreement is written and signed.
Kimley Horn did some conceptual plans initially.
“We are likely looking at a three-lane cross section in there,” Matthews said. “It will be a median divided probably in some sections and it will be some type of a turn lane in some sections.”
Four lane cross sections – what DOT had indicated in the past, Matthews said would be problematic because the intersection would bottleneck into a two lane road, which Monroe Road already is.
Mayor Lynda Paxton agreed that the project happen simultaneously and said while sewer improvements in the CIP are scheduled for 2017, the county’s director of public works indicated the issues would be taken care of quicker.
“I think it’s important that it happen simultaneously,” she said.
Paxton and Matthews said specifics are not yet available on those improvements but that a trunk lane had been discussed.
The second phase of the project would to authorize engineering and design, and even though Kimley Horn had done some of the conceptualization, the council decided to put the project out for bid.
“I like Kimley Horn, and I think they’re great,” Paxton said. “They’re got a great reputation, but I think they are more expensive, and I think if we don’t bid this, we aren’t going to get the best pricing.”
She questions what the impact would be if the company knew from the get-go they have the contract without competition .
“Kimley Horn is pretty proud of their work, and we took out a lot of things when we did this other contract with them,” she said.
The one stipulation to the vote came from Councilman Paul Frost, who asked that the funds that the town council advances be designated as capital reserve, if that’s permissible under the new guidelines.
“The finance committee is already aware and supportive of the concept of putting that amount of money forward, 2.3 million, and advancing it,” Frost said to the council. “The last time we met, we were under the assumtion that the numbers would line up in 2013 – we didnt have this information, but I would guess the Finance Committee wouldn’t have any concerns about moving it forward to get the process started.”
According to Matthews, these improvements will deal with the bottleneck at the intersection and the significant wait time at Monroe Road and the two intersections.
“Without these improvements traffic is just going to get worse,” Matthews said in an interview.