Forecasts of how much the new Main Street extension would unclog Avent Ferry Road were virtually on the money.
Traffic counts taken before and after the extension opening in early August showed a 28 percent drop on Avent Ferry between N.C. 55 and Piney Grove Wilbon Road. That’s almost 7,400 fewer cars a day.
Traffic consultants had predicted that extending Main Street to a realigned Piney Grove Wilbon Road would cut Avent Ferry traffic by 30 percent.
These are the numbers for Avent Ferry Road near N.C. 55:
- 26,658 vehicles per day before Main Street extension
- 19,262 vehicles per day after Main Street extension
The Main Street project largely separates homegrown Avent Ferry traffic from commuters coming from south of Holly Springs via Piney Grove Wilbon Road. Those commuters can now use Main Street as their connection to N.C. 55.
Main Street extension was one of several projects to alleviate congestion on Avent Ferry Road. Last fall, the N.C. 55 intersection was reconfigured with U-turn lanes and a new free flow lane to help rush hour traffic. Avent Ferry widening begins next year.
Extension of Main Street to a realigned Piney Grove Wilbon led to the creation of a new intersection with Ralph Stephens Road. During roadway planning and design, town engineers asked for a traffic light at the new intersection. Traffic forecasts did not show that it met state criteria for a traffic light. So the town and NCDOT agreed to revisit after opening using actual traffic numbers.
Following accidents in the days after opening, NCDOT approved a traffic light. The town and NCDOT are fast-tracking installation, slashing months off the usual time required by starting with wooden poles instead of custom-designed metal ones.
The contractor has extended fiber optic conduit to the new intersection from the traffic light at N.C. 55. As soon as NCDOT approves the installation price, town engineers will tell the contractor to proceed. Assuming that happens this week, the traffic light could be up by Oct. 20.
Meanwhile, the Engineering staff is trying to make the case for a traffic light at the Village Walk intersection of Main Street. NCDOT has said that a traffic light there would be too close to the one at N.C. 55. However, state engineers have said they would take another look.
To complete its own analysis, the town will use pneumatic tubes to calculate travel speeds on Main Street in the coming weeks. Then the town will send its analysis to NCDOT, which has final say over the traffic light.