The City of Mebane’s planning staff has evaluated a variety of potential transportation projects that could improve traffic flows throughout town, and is preparing to submit a series of ideas that the Strategic Prioritization Office of Transportation (SPOT), a division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), may consider for future years.
In 2020, NCDOT will complete its sixth cycle of submissions as part of the SPOT program. Projects are awarded every two years, with construction start dates identified either five or ten years from the date of submission. Following submission of the SPOT project list in 2020, Mebane will not be provided feedback regarding any potential SPOT project funding until 2021.
During the fifth SPOT project, the City of Mebane was awarded a project by the NCDOT - a series of widening and interchange improvements at Trollingwood-Hawfields Road. Work on that project is not expected to be conducted until 2028 at the earliest. But the funding - approximately $12.4 million dollars - has been earmarked by the state. The widening and interchange additions will dramatically improve traffic flows at one of Mebane’s increasingly-growing hot spots for traffic - and traffic accidents.
SPOT, a metric-based prioritization approach defined in strategic transportation investments law, according to City Planning Director Cy Stober, has three levels of prioritization - Statewide, Regional, and Division. The Trollingwood-Hawfields Road intersection and roadway improvements scheduled for 2028 are a Division project.
Town planners came up with a total of six new highway projects and one rail project to submit to the Burlington Graham Metropolitan Planning Organization, which administers federal and state transportation planning administrative services for the Burlington metropolitan region. In addition, Mebane is submitting four non-highway projects for bicycle and pedestrian projects that the Burlington Graham Metropolitan Planning Organization will consider. The entire application from Mebane for SPOT 6.0 includes a total of 11 projects.
The Burlington Graham Metropolitan Planning Organization is permitted to submit a total of 17 projects to the NCDOT for further evaluation and potential award of support, so some of Mebane’s ideas won’t make the final cut. But with plenty of possibilities - and plenty of needs - Mebane town leaders are hopeful that at least one if not multiple projects will get funding through this latest round of SPOT.
The six proposed highway projects that Mebane is submitting to the BGMPO includes two major projects for one of the busiest roads in town - Mebane Oaks Road.
One of the two Mebane Oaks projects would complete a widening of an approximately half-mile stretch of Mebane Oaks Road near the Mebane Fire Station 3 down to Old Hillsborough Road. The second project would complete the widening of a 2.2 mile stretch of Old Hillsborough Road to three lanes with a median and limited turning lanes from Mebane Oaks Road west to the intersection with N.C. Highway 119 at Hawfields.
Additional submissions include the widening of N.C. Highway 119 from Old Hillsborough Road to Kimrey Road - a high-priority project that may already be submitted by the NCDOT - an interchange improvement at U.S. Highway 70 with Woodlawn Road and Moore Street, a Mebane Oaks Road “modernization” to Cook Road, and a Stagecoach Road intersection improvement with Lebanon Road.
Stober explained to the Mebane City Council in its October meeting that with 400-plus homes having been approved in the immediate area over the past couple years, the Stagecoach/Lebanon Road improvements are directly intended to prevent automobile accidents more so than to loosen up traffic, which is the intention of the improvements along Mebane Oaks and Old Hillsborough Roads.
Mebane City staff has evaluated candidate projects using the 2040 Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) and the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, as well as staff knowledge of emerging needs due to growth patterns around town.
The bicycle and pedestrian projects being submitted are all “connectors” that will provide sidewalk and/or shared use path connections to outlying residential subdivisions that are currently disconnected from the City’s sidewalk network. All of these projects are within the NCDOT Right Of Way (ROW) and are consequently competitive projects for funding, unlike most greenways that lie outside the NCDOT Right of Way.