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The Daily Tar Heel

Construction on Smith Level Road now slated to end in January

After two years, $5 million and countless traffic jams, the construction project on Smith Level Road, which was slated for completion in May, will finally come to an end in January.

Construction has been going on since February 2013, and many residents are upset by how long it has taken.

“It’s absolutely horrendous,” said John Christie, a resident who lives off of Smith Level Road. “It took them almost two and a half years to do a very simple project. That project was not that difficult.”

John’s wife, Julie Christie, agrees the construction has taken longer than it should have. 

“They had two projects going on at either end of our street at the same time about a year and a half ago, and the other one's been done a half a year already,” she said.

The completion date for the Smith Level project was originally set for May 2015 but has now been pushed back a full eight months. 

Bergen Watterson, the transportation planner for the town of Carrboro, attributes the postponement to “issues with utility placements and other minor, unexpected delays”.

Chris Kirkman, the project manager for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said there are only small tasks such as pavement markings, mulching and signage left to do. 

The lengthy construction work has caused a headache for drivers trying to pass through the area.

“There has been congestion along the road during construction, particularly during the peak commuting hours in the morning and the afternoon,” Watterson said. “We have received reports of cars cutting through the neighborhoods to the west of Smith Level Road trying to avoid the traffic.”

The $5 million project added bike lanes and sidewalks along both sides of Smith Level Road and a roundabout at the intersection of Smith Level and Rock Haven roads that opened on Aug. 1. 

“The purpose of the project was to ease congestion along the roadway and improve safety,” Watterson said.

Now that construction is winding down and the enhancements are nearly complete, residents are noticing that the new infrastructure has achieved this objective.

Karl Eklund, a resident of Rock Creek Apartments off of Smith Level Road, has noticed an improvement in traffic flow during school transit hours.

“It used to be, when the light was there, that during the start or end of the high school day, cars would line up so you couldn't get in or out of the apartment complex,” he said. “But with the roundabout, it's actually a lot easier.”

John Christie also appreciates the ease in traffic congestion during these hours.

“They widened Culbreth Road here, so all the high school kids coming up Culbreth to take a left on Smith Level are given a longer turn lane, which has been good,” John Christie said.

With the years of traffic jams behind them, residents will soon be able to enjoy a safer and smoother Smith Level Road.

“It’s an improvement; it’s definitely an improvement,” said Julie Christie. “It just took a long time.”


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