Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge and Intersection Improvements

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Carpenter Fire Station Road Grade Separation with CSX Railroad 

Project Updates (Spring-Early Summer 2018)

Spring 2018

  • Permits secured with all other federal, local and state entities.
  • The Town engineering consultant team has completed the design phase of the project.
  • Staff has issued a Request for Qualifications for Construction Engineering and Inspections (CEI) scope of work.
  • Staff presented the recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2019 to Town Council at the May 3, 2018 regular Town Council Meeting, which recommends an additional $8.7 million towards the project. (see below budget section for additional details).
  • Facilitated first utility relocation coordination meeting on May 8. Representatives from Duke Energy, Time Warner Cable/Spectrum, AT&T, MCI-Verizon, PSNC Gas, Google Fiber of NC and Cary Public Works attended.
  • Bidding Documents, final engineers’ estimates are being prepared and final agreements between Cary and CSX Railroad are being executed to begin the public bid process required by state law.

Late Spring 2018

Early Summer 2018

  • Cary executing the railroad construction agreement which allows Cary to bid the project.
  • Utility relocations by Duke Energy will begin.

Western Wake Railroad Crossing Closures (Early Summer 2018)

  • See map of the Western Wake Railroad Crossing closures
  • A Private Developer on behalf of the Town of Cary and CSX Transportation will permanently close the at-grade railroad crossing at Carpenter Fire Station Road, east of N.C. 55 tentatively Early-Summer 2018. See map of the closure.
  • Drivers will still be able to access Carpenter Fire Station Road west of NC 55 via a detour route using Morrisville Carpenter Road at-grade crossing to the south to NC 55 Highway. See map of detour.
  • The Town plans to open the route again; tentatively summer 2022 via an underpass as part of the Carpenter Fire Station Road Realignment Project.
  • Purpose of Project

    This project consists of the realignment of Carpenter Fire Station Road from NC 55 Highway to Morrisville-Carpenter Road, west of Louis Stephens Drive. The project incorporates a new four-lane, median-divided roadway with paved shoulders for bicycles, as indicated in the Cary 2040 Community Plan and the Carpenter Community Master Plan.

    The purpose of the proposed project is to realign Carpenter Fire Station Road from the NC-55 highway intersection to Morrisville-Carpenter Road just west of Louis Stephens Drive for approximately 0.8 miles to improve west-east network connectivity in and around the Historic Carpenter Community linking Western Cary to Morrisville and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

    A secondary purpose of the project is to enhance west-east highway and rail crossing safety by replacing an at-grade crossing with a grade separation at the CSX Railroad alignment just east of NC 55 Highway.

    The project incorporates a new four-lane, median divided roadway with paved shoulders for bicycles as indicated on the Town’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), the CAMPO 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan, the Carpenter Community Plan and the NCDOT State Transportation Improvement Program.

    The following are the proposed views of the future railroad grade separation project with CSX railroad.


    Figure 1 - Future CSX Railroad Grade Separation with Carpenter Fire Station Road. View is facing west toward NC 55 from Carpenter Historic District.


    Figure 2 – Future CSX Railroad Grade Separation with Carpenter Fire Station Road. View is facing east toward Good Hope Church Road and towards the Carpenter Historic District.

    Additional planning and general design criteria information for the Town of Cary’s ST1204 project; located in the State Environmental Assessment Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

    Project Benefits

    The project will provide immediate benefits to Cary citizens including:

    • Improved traffic flow by completing a strategic east-west commuter thoroughfare link
    • Reduced traffic congestion and delays at its intersection with NC 55 Highway
    • Improved traffic circulation and connectivity in the Carpenter Community area
    • Enhanced traffic safety by eliminating the at-grade railroad crossing with CSX railroad tracks
    • Wide paved shoulders to accommodate experienced bike users, which allows residents to use alternative modes of travel other than motorized vehicles.


    • Complete Design - Late Spring 2018
    • Begin Highway Utility Conflict Relocations – Early Summer 2018
    • Bid Advertisement - Early Summer 2018
    • Bid Opening - Summer 2018
    • Notice of Award to Contractor - Late Summer 2018
    • Bid Award Recommendation to Town Council - Late Summer 2018
    • Contracts, Bonds and Insurance between Contractor and Cary - Fall 2018
    • Begin Construction - Fall 2018
    • Open New Carpenter Fire Station Rd Roadway to NC 55 with Grade Separation – Summer 2022
    • Complete Construction – Summer 2022
    • Close Morrisville Carpenter Road at CSX At-Grade Railroad Crossing – Summer 2022


    • At the May 3, 2018 Regular Town Council Meeting, Staff presented the recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2019 which recommends an additional $8.7 million to towards the project funding due to increased construction, real estate and utility construction costs to maintain service levels in western Cary.
    • The May 3rd budget appropriation of $8.7 million towards the project account will bring the total budget to approximately $30 million based on engineers estimate and opinion of costs.
    • $17 million of the $30 million is available for the project from the 2012 Community Investment Bonds.
    • The remaining $13 million necessary to complete the project; will be made available from other Town revenue sources.

    The cost of the project is currently estimated at $30 million which includes, design fees, construction engineering and administration, construction costs, right of way and permitting. Additional funding may be identified upon final plan specification and estimate development and following the public bid opening.

    Note: No federal funds are proposed to be used on the project. Only Town of Cary Community Investment Bond revenue and recognized Town revenue sources will be used for the project.

    Historic, Human and Environmental Coordination/Mitigation

    The project is in northwestern Cary; within the National Carpenter Historic District and is planned, designed to complement our strong transportation network, maintain CSX railroad access, while accommodating and valuing the historic character and existing finite resources of the historic area. The project was designed and will be constructed to minimize environmental and historic impacts and does require environmental/historic permitting and mitigation efforts.

    Map of Carpenter National Historic District



    Figure 3 Carpenter National Register Historic District Map

    In coordination and consultation with federal, state and local agencies; Cary is taking the lead on the following actions to mitigate historic and environmental impacts pre and post construction of the project via a memorandum of agreement that was executed summer 2017. Some of the major project related actions will include the following:

    • Installation of Historic District Signage for Carpenter Gateway Treatments to alert visitors they have entered a historic area. These are anticipated to be installed towards the completion of the project.
    • Dismantling, Recording and Storage of Two Historic Barn Structures along Saunders Grove Lane within the Historic District. The bars will be dismantled by hand with the intent of salvaging as much materials as possible. The barn materials deemed salvageable for historic purposes will be temporarily stored in a covered location by the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department for future use by the Town of Cary within future park projects. Work to dismantle the barns is scheduled to begin summer 2018.
    • Medians between NC 55 to Good Hope Church Rd lie within a portion of the historic district. Upon substantial completion; the new median will be a grass median for water quality and erosion control protection. Staff will develop a median and landscape planting plan after acceptance of the project that will feature vegetative planting in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
    • Use of non-standard expressway gutter with ditch section between NC 55 to Good Hope Church Road to minimize the disturbed area through the historic district.
    • CSX Grade Separation (Tunnel) to be designed to minimize the visibility of the new roadway alignment from the southern portion of the historic district.
    • Use of shoulder and ditch section along Saunders Grove Lane to maintain the rural character of the district.

    Project Background

    Morrisville-Carpenter Road west of Louis Stephens Road currently carries about 11,000 vehicles per day. Traffic forecasts for the realignment project predict that the roadway will carry over 20,000 vehicles per day at year 2030.

    Public Involvement and Communications

    Public meetings were held to provide information and obtain feedback on design elements to help shape the project in October 2012 and March 2014 at Good Hope Baptist Church.

    At the October 2012 meeting, staff presented an aerial map that showed the project corridor. The workshop was held to receive initial feedback from citizens. Click here to view the study update newsletter/handout from the meeting.

    At the second meeting in March 2014, staff presented the final roadway alignment alternatives. Citizens were asked to review and comment on the alternatives. In the follow-up to the workshop, alternative number one was selected.  Click here to view the project update newsletter/proposed alternatives from the second meeting).

    Staff anticipates providing notifications to citizens within and adjacent to the work area regarding utility relocation work to begin; early summer 2018.


    Tom Ellis, PE for Design, Permitting and Right of Way
    Project Engineer
    Transportation & Facilities Department
    Town of Cary
    (919) 469-4333

    Robert E. Shultes for Construction
    Transportation & Facilities Department
    Town of Cary
    (919) 380-4104