Most if not all of the disruption caused by the state’s construction of the NC 119 bypass around Mebane could be over by later this year, based on the time frame laid out to Mebane’s city council by two high-ranking N.C. Department of Transportation officials who briefed the council members this week.
The two gave Mebane’s city council an update on existing and potential future projects in Mebane and its immediately surrounding area during the council’s monthly meeting Monday night.
Mike Fox, chairman of the NCDOT Board of Transportation and Wright Archer, the division engineer immediately responsible for projects in Alamance County, confirmed the status of two existing projects and gave projections on some possibilities for the future.
The biggest project is the NC 119 bypass, which is an ongoing project, running from the interstate to just north of the Mill Creek subdivision north of Mebane.
Archer estimated that the first phase of the bypass would be complete by “the latter part of summer.”
That phase consists of the road widening and rerouting of NC 119 from I-85/40 to Mebane Rogers Road/Stage Coach Road.
He also suggested that the second phase of the project would proceed shortly thereafter. Archer attributed some of the project’s delay as due to weather, particularly rain over the past year.
In a subsequent interview with The Alamance News, Archer noted that it was possible that the second and final phase of the current project – from Mebane Rogers Road/Stage Coach Road north to Mrs. White Lane (north of the Mill Creek subdivision) – may be complete by early fall of 2021.
Meanwhile, the project to widen Mebane Oaks Road, including the overpass above I-85/40 will go out for bids in March, Archer said, with the project to begin in April or May.
The interchange will remain in the same style as currently (a so-called “conventional interchange” as oppose to the new style at NC 119), with a doubling of the width of the overpass; lanes will also be widened with additional turn lanes installed from the interstate to about the entrance to Walmart. Completion is expected on the Mebane Oaks improvements in late 2023, the DOT official estimated.
Archer noted, in a subsequent interview with the newspaper, that two lanes will be added in each direction on the overpass bridge. As a result, during construction, there may be reduced capacity as a lane or more may have to be closed while working on the other side.
City manager Chris Rollins asked about the project for a traffic signal at Mebane Oaks and Old Hillsborough roads, based on the contribution from a developer that gave money to the city which funneled it to DOT as a down payment, of sorts, on getting the signal.
Archer reported that the right-of-way acquisitions are about 90 percent complete, adding that there would soon be activity on the project within the next month or so.
He later elaborated to The Alamance News that the intersection improvement project will also entail some widening at the intersection, as well as other technical improvements.
Several years out, Rollins and Archer discussed, is a planned extension of Lowes Boulevard to Trollingwood-Hawfields Road and, in about 2028, a widening and expansion at the interchange with the interstate at that exit.
Mayor Ed Hooks noted during the discussion that transportation issues are frequent issues in the fast-growing city.
Among other projects mentioned were a forthcoming widening of I-40 in Orange County (between the split with I-85 and US 15-501 in Chapel Hill/Durham).
Desires for improvements at Buckhorn Road and the possible addition of a new interchange at Mattress Factory Road (between Buckhorn and Mebane Oaks) have been discussed, but have not yet gained approval or funding, the DOT officials reported.
Archer later recounted another potential project with a Mebane impact that is also being considered is the potential widening of NC 119 from NC 54 near Alexander Wilson Elementary School to Hawfields-Trollingwood Road at Hawfields Presbyterian Church. That is being studied, but there is yet no formal approval, or funding, for such a project.