Holly Springs, N.C. — Holly Springs is booming with two big projects – the addition of an Interstate 540 interchange and a new shopping center – but they are creating both opportunities and headaches for the town.
Town officials say when New Hill Place shopping center opens next year and the link to I-540 opens in December, that's going to double the amount of traffic on N.C. Highway 55 Bypass, the biggest highway in the town.
“We've got to look at how we can move traffic through as quick as possible – 53,000 cars a day by the time that opens up makes a big difference,” said Town Manager Carl Dean.
The I-540 interchange will connect the town with Research Triangle Park and North Raleigh. New Hill Place is nearby at N.C. 55 Bypass and New Hill Road. It’s all good news to Dean, who says the town will get 1,500 jobs and a bigger tax base. But, the growth comes at a cost.
The state Department of Transportation says the answer is a “superstreet,” which is a non-traditional type of intersection in which minor cross-street traffic is prohibited from going straight through or left at a divided highway intersection.
For example, as drivers approach the 55 Bypass from a side street, they'll have to make a right turn, a U-turn, then another right turn to continue on the side street.
Engineers say it's safer and keeps traffic flowing more smoothly. But neighbors, like Jerry Canterbury, say they are worried about delays, pedestrian safety and emergency response times.
“We can’t stop it. Let's make the changes that we can to make it as low-impact on the community here as possible,” Canterbury said.
Engineers have been studying ways to improve the design, according to the town. Superstreet intersections will be in place by next year, and Dean said he hopes they accomplish at least one major goal – “making sure it doesn't look like Capital Boulevard.”
New Hill Place’s developer can’t open the shopping center until the superstreet intersections are installed at three spots along the N.C. 55 Bypass between New Hill Place and Green Oaks Parkway. Dean says construction will be a constant on that stretch of the bypass for the next year.