Cary, NC – For more than a year now, much of life in downtown Cary has been shaped by the extensive construction and roadwork. And now the end may be in sight as more of the road is being opened up with plans for large-scale completion by September.
Driving on Academy Street
One of the changes to Academy Street during construction that has most aggravated drivers was the change to a one-way road, particularly when that one-way switched directions in past months.
But now, the town announced the Southern end of Academy Street, the stretch between Dry Ave and Park Street, will be back to a two-lane road in time for Lazy Daze.
“The last big hurdle is opening that up to two-way traffic and that will be done this week,” said Kyle Hubert, senior engineer for the Academy Streetscape project. “We still need to work to configure that traffic signal and we still need to activate the pedestrian signals but we just finished the brick paving at the intersection.”
Additionally, both sides of Park Street are now open to traffic through Academy Street.
At the same time, roadway paving and gutter work are continuing on the west side of Academy Street, between Park Street and Chatham Street. The plan is for this to be completed by early September so sidewalks and tree pits can be installed afterwards.
“Lots of sidewalks are installed but there is some finishing work to be done,” Hubert said.
Paving is also complete on the Academy/Chatham Street intersection and curb-ramps are currently being poured around it. But in the downtown plans, that pavement is also going to be extended to the alleyway behind Kitchen and Bath, as well as the Waldo Road intersection and in front of the post office and Academy Street Bistro, according to Hubert.
“We’re installing the new traffic signal cabinet and milbank. Sometimes we like to close that intersection down for events and bands and this will help us support that,” he said.
Now, Hubert said the milestone is for the entire downtown project to be “substantially complete” by the end of September.
“After that, we’ll have a good punchlist for the contractors and we’ll see what’s remaining from there,” he said.
Along with the work being done to open up the roads to traffic, construction is also underway to improve the look of Academy Street for pedestrians. More room is being made for foot traffic in front of the Cary Community Library with plans to do the same in front of the downtown post office and First Baptist Church.
“Tree pits are dug already on the sidewalks, with rocks and organics to help the trees grow in an urban environment and keep the roots from disrupting the pavement,” Hubert said.
Plans for installing trees and other plants won’t go ahead until the weather cools down.
There are also a dozen uniquely carved stone benches being installed along the street, all sculpted at the NC Granite Corporation in Mt. Airy.
Currently, Duke Energy is in the process of installing light poles along Academy Street with a goal to end by late August to early September, although Hubert said they are facing some delays when it comes to laying foundation for those.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Hal Goodtree.