Hawkins Ave. roundabouts postponed until next year
The construction of the roundabouts planned for Hawkins Avenue at the on- and off-ramps of U.S. Highway 1 will be delayed until next year because of concerns about interfering with utility lines.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is in charge of the project, and the city of Sanford plans to work with the DOT to beautify the area around the roundabouts and run a water line up Hawkins Avenue.
Marty Tillman, resident engineer of the DOT, said moving forward with the project without thoroughly checking the utility lines along the stretch of Hawkins near U.S. 1 could potentially double the amount of time that stretch of Hawkins Avenue and the U.S. 1 ramps would be closed.
"For 60 days when we do the project, there will be no traffic that can pass under U.S. 1," Tillman said. "What we don't want to have happen is [for] that 60-day closure to turn into 120 days because there was a fiber-optic cable in the way that we didn't check."
The DOT originally planned to award the project to the lowest bidder in early August and begin construction on Sept. 2. He said those dates would tentatively be pushed to sometime in February and March respectively.
Director Victor Czar of Sanford's Public Works Department said the delay would not have much of an impact on the city's plans for the roundabouts.
"We're working with them on two things," Czar said. "[The first is] enhancing the looks of the roundabouts. That will take place when the construction happens, so it's just postponed a little bit."
Czar said the city's long-term goal was to run a water line along Hawkins Avenue to reinforce the city's water system.
"[During the construction] is a good time to get that water line under the bridge," Czar said. "But it won't impact our ability to serve water."
Tillman said the DOT already had the locations of the cables located and marked on the surface. The next step is to dig down to the cables to determine whether they will interfere with the planned storm drainage systems.
"If there is [a conflict], the utility company will have to relocate the cables," Tillman said. "They're within our right of way under encroachment, which means we allow [them] to be there but if [they're] ever in our way, it's at [their] expense, because we're not charging [them] to be there."
Bypass remains unfinished
The U.S. 421 Bypass, originally scheduled to be completed Oct. 2 of last year, most likely will not be completed until the spring or summer of next year, according to Tillman.
"They will not finish it this calendar year in my opinion," Tillman said of Devere Construction, the contractor in charge of the project. " If they do, they'll have accomplished a lot of work in a very short period."
Marshall Downey, director of Sanford's Planning and Development Division, said the main short-term impact of the extended completion date on the city would be continued heavy traffic along Horner Boulevard.
"Once the bypass is complete," Downey said, "on the north end there, [trucks] would be able to get on the bypass and not have to go through town. We would get some of the heavier through traffic off of Horner, and local traffic would be less congested."
Downey said long-term effects of the delay were more related to development and property.
"Once the bypass is completed," Downey said, "the value of the lands around where the bypass are will be more marketable. The longer that gets delayed, it slows the ability to make that property more valuable."