Harold’s Blog: Bikeway, Pipeline and Road Projects Underway

Cary, NC — My staff meetings for this week were canceled.

Wednesday – Life Science Market Presentation

My only meeting of the week was the Chamber’s monthly Economic Development meeting held on Wednesday. Dr. Laura Rowley gave her thoughts on the current state of the life science market and how she sees it moving forward. Through her presentation, I learned about several companies in the region doing great work in the Biotech area including COVID-19 research.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for the week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

I could not have been more impressed with the Heart of Cary this week as they hosted me for my first-ever Zoom interview. The questions were incredibly thoughtful and forward-thinking. The moderators, Scott Korbin and Neal Sugarman, were positive, prepared, and well-spoken. And with every communication to me and staff in preparation for the event through the event itself, they created such a sense of professionalism, optimism, and genuine caring for Cary. I am grateful for the opportunity and proud, on both your and staff’s behalf, to humbly accept all of the complements levied on us.


Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Weekly Report

Click here for the EOC/COVID-19 weekly update. If you have any questions, please let me know. Some of the key point:

  • A total of 11 PD Compliance calls were reported between 7/31 and 8/5 with 7 related to masks. 311 managed 6 COVID-19 related cases during this period.
  • The EOC continues to share messaging that aligns with Governor Cooper’s announcement to extend Safer at Home Phase 2 through at least September 11. A Help for Citizens webpage was also published on Cary’s website this week to consolidate information on utility and rental assistance.
  • The Municipality Cases per 1000 have Cary’s rating at 5.38 which is the 2nd lowest among the 12 Wake County municipalities.
  • Considering the 4 primary Zip Codes for Cary, we continue to see an increase in positive cases, 928 this week and one additional death for a total of 8 deaths.

Operational Framework & Update

After receiving a request from NC Emergency Management, Cary’s 12-person Swift Water Rescue Team deployed on August 2, to provide aid in Williamston, NC.

Thankfully, we were fortunate to experience Hurricane Isaias with minimal impacts to our area. This allowed us the opportunity to deploy our Swift Water Rescue Team to Williamston and help our fellow North Carolinians in a time of need. In addition, this week at the department director’s meeting the group began preparing for next week’s quarterly meeting with Council.

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities outside of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report.

Departmental Updates

Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.

  • The first virtual Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting was held on Monday to ratify a previous case and to prepare for the first quasi-judicial hearings on August 17. Next week, staff will organize presentation walkthroughs with the board chair and the board attorney, as well as, the applicants of both cases, Fifth Third Bank at Searstone and Triangle Montessori Academy.
  • Two virtual neighborhood meetings were held on Wednesday.
    • Carpenter Village Parcel K (Request to increase building height for already allowed office use from one story to three stories; 30+ participants attended.)
    • Hatcher Tract (Proposed detached residential and townhomes; adjacent to Carpenter Village; 50 participants attended. Neighbors had concerns with street connectivity.)
  • There are currently 416 building permits in the queue for routing and review. This is up 66 more permits compared to the first week of July. In July, we averaged 28 permit submittals per day, which is up from 22 per day in June. The volume is impacting our processing time.
  • The Development Pulse report for July is now available.
  • The recruitment period for the Town’s Boards, Commission, and Committee, ended on July 31. The total number of applicants was 150. Council is currently reviewing the applicants and may conduct interviews over the next few weeks. Appointments will occur before September 30, and the terms for the new members will begin on October 1.
  • The Town Manager’s Office met an important deadline this week. The completed application to retain National Register Status on the Nancy Jones House (in the future location) was submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). SHPO will be sending a notification to adjacent property owners, the HPC, and Mayor Weinbrecht regarding the proposed move. SHPO will present the request to the North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee on October 8. The recommendation from that meeting will be forwarded to the National Park Service for final review and approval.
  • The Town Manager’s Office and Public works monitored conditions throughout the night during Tropical Storm Isaias. Stream locations in older areas of town (primarily within Walnut Creek and Swift Creek basins) were flowing full but mostly not overtopping the banks. In areas of western Cary, which has been primarily developed since 2000, conditions were better. Overall, rain gauges suggest rainfall of 3” to 5″ in various locations throughout town.
  • Wake Transit planners are rescheduling planned transit investments through 2030 as a result of lower tax collections and other COVID-19 pandemic impacts. They are asking the public for feedback on priorities related to transit service and capital improvements. A short survey is available here until August 31.sssss
  • This week, the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) presented a Zero Fare Study at their annual meeting. Although the report is not being released due to the need for additional discussions regarding cost and other concerns, Joe Milazzo indicated that GoCary is best positioned to take on a Zero Fare Pilot. Joe mentioned that all area transit providers need to have more discussions prior to the concept proceeding. You can review a description of the study on RTA’ website here.
  • This week, T&F mailed out easement acquisition offers for six more properties along Louis Stephens Drive and Upchurch Meadow Road for the Louis Stephens Sidewalk project.
  • The Walnut Creek Pump Station located off Buck Jones Road and I-40 is one of Cary’s longest serving wastewater pumping facilities in service since 1988. As part of our ongoing Sewer Rehabilitation Project, contractors working on behalf of Cary recently completed important upgrades to the Walnut Creek Pump Station including the application of high-strength corrosion-resistant coatings in the wet well, installing new electrical conduits, and replacing aging electrical wiring. These improvements will ensure reliable operation of the pump station for many years to come. To allow the contractor to work within the pump station, a bypass pumping system was used for approximately 3 weeks while improvements were being made. With the forecast of Hurricane Isaias last week, contractors and Town staff worked diligently to complete the work and return the pump station to its full operating capacity just ahead of the storm.
  • Cary’s wastewater collection system infrastructure performed very well during FY20. One of the key metrics for sewer system performance is minimizing sanitary sewer overflows. Cary’s wastewater collection system includes approximately 990-miles of pipes and conveys more than 7 billion gallons of wastewater safely to one of our water reclamation facilities for high-quality wastewater treatment. During the last reporting year, our wastewater collection system recorded only 6 small overflows that totaled 2,515 gallons for the entire year, making this past year the best overall performance in our recent history. We are so thankful for our wastewater collection system operators who manage our systems so effectively and efficiently.

Chapel Hill Road Study

The Town of Cary is seeking public input as part of the Chapel Hill Road Mobility Study to re-imagine the corridor. Staff is encouraging residents to fill out the survey. We’ll be exploring numerous questions throughout the study. What is the right-size of the street to serve residents, schools, businesses, and the Downtown? What improvements are needed?

Before we can improve Chapel Hill Road inside the Maynard Road loop, we need a plan. Help us create the vision for Chapel Hill Road. Due to COVID-19, we’re moving initial public engagement activities online. This 10-question survey will be just one opportunity to provide input on the Mobility Study, which helps the Town plan for future design. This survey focuses on identifying the Priorities & Needs for the street. What is your wish list? Please share your ideas and this survey link.

Morrisville Parkway Interchange with NC-540

In early February, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA), NCDOT, and Cary opened the interchange at NC 540 and Morrisville Parkway in advance of tolling infrastructure being completed. The tolling infrastructure installation was delayed due to design revisions including moving the new toll gantry north of the Interchange. Installation of the tolling infrastructure is now substantially complete, and tolling is scheduled to begin on August 9.

Dominion Energy Pipeline Project

Dominion Energy North Carolina (DENC) will install a nearly five-and-a-half-mile gas line along existing road rights-of-way in Chatham County. This route is part of phase 2 of the project started in 2018. Construction will begin in September. The gas line will be in-service by the end of the year.

This project will help DENC upgrade their natural gas system in compliance with regulations as they meet the growing needs of our customers in the Triangle region. A map of the Phase 2A route is provided below. The second part of the Phase 2 pipeline project (this is the section DENC selected away from the American Tobacco Trail) still have some route finalization to work out. Phase 2B will not start in 2020. DENC will finalize and begin their outreach plan once the route is finalized for this section.

Triangle Bikeway Project

A study is underway for the alignment and design of the “Triangle Bikeway” project. The study is being led by CAMPO and the DCHC MPO. It involves a primarily commuter bike facility along the I-40 corridor from Raleigh to Chapel Hill. This is important as an alternate transportation mode for Cary; it will tie to Cary greenways and on-road bike facilities. The bikeway will hopefully also accommodate pedestrians; a cross-section has not yet been determined. Please take a few minutes to complete the online survey and make map comments for this important regional project:

Harrison Tank Featured in Photo Contest

The Harrison Tank features prominently in an NC American Water Works Association & Water Environment Association (AWWA/WEA) photo contest entered by Ryan Lambert of Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility. Congrats to Ryan for winning the structures category.


Project PHOENIX has begun reaching out to various apartment communities to give away masks as part of the Town’s COVID-19 efforts. Thanks to the Fire Department and others in the Town for their efforts in this worthwhile cause.

Additional Information of Interest

I’ve found the following articles to be particularly interesting this week and wanted to share with you for your reading pleasure:

Get in Touch

In a pre-COVID meeting, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Mayor Pro-Ten Don Frantz and Councilwoman Lori Bush listen to a citizen’s presentation.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request to put a park on the old library site
  • A request for sidewalk enhancements at North Cary Parkway and Silverridge Court
  • A request to pass a “cease and desist” resolution to 4G and 5G companies (These are regulated by the state and national governments not local governments)
  • A request to implement all the Environmental Advisory Board Carbon Reduction Recommendations (The town is working on these)
  • A request to help with problems related to a townhome builder
  • A complaint about loss of trees on Urban Drive

Next week’s activities include staff meetings and a quarterly meeting between council and staff.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 16th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communicating with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to [email protected] and email personal comments to [email protected].

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images by Ashley Kairis and Town of Cary staff.

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