Local News

Cary Hearing Considers $15 Million Road-Tunnel Project

Posted March 24, 2008 6:45 a.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2008 10:40 p.m. EDT

— The public had a chance Monday evening to hear about a $15 million proposal to extend a street and construct a tunnel under downtown railroad tracks.

The goal of the Walker Street project is to provide motorists with a route past the rail tracks across Academy Street and Harrison Avenue, which freight and Amtrak trains use regularly, town officials said.

"Having an alternate route for those everyday commuters, in addition to emergency personnel, I think everyone will realize there's a need for the project," said Joe Moore, Cary's engineering services manager.

The proposed project would extend Waker Street north 1,200 feet to intersect with Chapel Hill Road. A road tunnel beneath the rail tracks would also have sidewalks and room for bicyclists.

The town has set aside approximately $980,000 in federal funds for the project. Construction could begin in spring 2010 and be completed by winter 2011.

Some downtown business owners questioned devoting that much money to the road tunnel.

"I do have concerns regarding the costs of the project," Glenda Westbrook said. "There are several other projects that may be important to look at before we begin that one."

Business owners suggested improving the streetscape, constructing a town square and converting the former Cary Elementary School into a community arts center.

The public meeting on the road tunnel ran from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center, 119 Ambassador Loop, near Town Hall.

Town officials plan to hold several public hearings as they enter the design phase for the project.