Finally: Pittsboro’s traffic circle re-opens

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PITTSBORO — The traffic circle in downtown Pittsboro has reopened after months of renovation, but work on the larger road construction project is ongoing.

In January, the N.C. Dept. of Transportation, in partnership with the Town of Pittsboro, closed a portion of the circle as part of a safety initiative to improve pedestrian and driver conditions. The $2.48 million contract, awarded to Carolina Sunrock LLC of Raleigh, also included functional and aesthetic upgrades.

On Monday, crews removed and replaced pavement markings and tentatively opened the southeastern half of the circle. Work is continuing on the northwestern half, and drivers can expect daily lane closures. Full road closures, however, will be relegated to overnight construction, according to a NCDOT press release.

Until the circle project has completed in October, U.S. 15-501 truck and through traffic will continue to be detoured along N.C. 87 and U.S. 64 Bypass, NCDOT says, which will also serve as the detour for U.S. 64 Business. Drivers should be mindful of crews working in this area over coming months and allow extra time for the detours.

“The traffic circle is now open,” Town Manager Chris Kennedy said in a board of commissioners meeting Monday. “I went out there myself to basically force it open ... Thank goodness, very excited to have it done.”

The circle project has been a “hotly discussed” topic, Kennedy said, since construction began six months ago. Besides the pandemic’s blow to Pittsboro’s economy, road closures downtown stifled customer access to faltering businesses and frustrated many residents. The infrastructure enhancement was necessary, though, according to town leaders, to facilitate Pittsboro’s accelerating expansion.

“There’s no doubt that downtown will be improved with this project,” Kennedy previously told the News + Record. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the project’s going to be tremendous at the end. I don’t think anybody can disagree that the timing — it just isn’t ideal … And so we are greatly empathetic to that and we’re trying to do what we can to work through that.”

While the circle has opened to through traffic, residents will notice the road is still incomplete, and will remain as such for several months.

“The final lift of asphalt will happen at the very end,” Kennedy said Monday. “So right now what we have is basically a good clean surface, but there are some bumps, especially as you transition on the northern side of the circle ... Once the project is done, they’re going to come in with a final lift of asphalt so that it looks really nice. So all the markings there now are temporary.”

Traffic circle renovations constitute the first phase of a bigger project to improve about two miles of U.S. Hwy. 15-501 in Pittsboro — widening the road and adding streetscape improvements between south of U.S. Hwy. 64 Business and Powell Place Lane near the bypass.

Proceeds from the sale of Build NC bonds​ are earmarked to pay for $1.5 million of the construction of the first phase.

Other NCDOT projects are expected to cause similar traffic detours in coming weeks, the department said in a press release. Workers have cordoned off a section of N.C. Hwy. 42 between Dickens Road and Christian Chapel Church Road to facilitate replacement of a damaged pipe culvert. Work is expected to complete before the July 4 holiday, weather permitting.

DOT officials have attributed the pipe failure to damage from Hurricane Florence floodwaters. The department awarded a $107,845 contract to Jymco Construction Company of Smithfield to make the emergency repair.

During the closure, N.C. Hwy. 42 traffic will be detoured along Christian Chapel Church Road, Old U.S. Hwy. 1 and Corinth Road to access points on either side of the work zone.

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at and on Twitter @dldolder.


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