Town of Cary
North Carolina

Staff Report

Streets Maintenance Exchange


Department:Transportation and FacilitiesSponsors:


  1. DOC ID 3395 Attachment 1 Resolution

Speaker:  Kyle Hubert, Transportation and Facilities


Executive Summary:  To efficiently balance street maintenance needs with available funding, staff has been in discussions with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to exchange maintenance responsibilities of several streets in Cary.  The purpose of the street maintenance exchange is for NCDOT to maintain major thoroughfares, while Cary maintains smaller local and collector streets.  Over the years, similar resolutions have been passed to clarify the exchange of street maintenance responsibilities between Cary and NCDOT. 


Recommendation: Adopt the attached Resolution requesting that (1) sections of Morrisville Parkway and Cary Parkway be added to the State Highway System; and (2) sections of Turner Creek Road, Piney Plains Road, Old Raleigh Road, and Gregson Drive be removed from the State Highway System and become the responsibility of Cary.


Background:  In North Carolina, street maintenance is the responsibility of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and municipalities.  Streets that are on the State Highway System are owned and maintained by NCDOT; while all other public streets are owned and maintained by the municipality in which they are located.  The streets we are asking NCDOT to maintain are larger streets which carry people through Cary and the streets we are asking to assume maintenance on are streets which carry our citizens around Cary. 


Street maintenance includes many aspects of operating the roadway, including:

§         Major maintenance, such as resurfacing and pothole repair;

§         Access management, such as determining and permitting driveway spacing for new development; and

§         Monitoring and managing encroachments by second and third parties such as public and private utilities, fiber communications and small cell.


Street maintenance does not include maintaining landscaped medians and pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks, streetside trails and pedestrian underpasses.  Cary anticipates continuing to maintain the medians and pedestrian facilities on these streets.


In advance of requesting NCDOT to maintain some of the most important streets in Cary, several considerations were evaluated, including:


§         NCDOT has a robust maintenance program and is continuously maintaining many streets in Cary which carry similar traffic to those being requested for exchange.  The evaluation criteria used by NCDOT to determine which streets are resurfaced are very similar to our own.  All streets are evaluated annually to determine existing pavement distresses which results in a score ranking.  Other factors are also considered including upcoming construction projects, local development, roads requiring more frequent maintenance, and geographic location to ensure work happens all across the state.  NCDOT also considers input received from local municipalities in their final selection. NCDOT has a five year resurfacing plan that is available on NCDOT’s Go!NC site located at and then searching for “Highway Maintenance Improvement Program.” 


§         NCDOT also adequately addresses shorter term maintenance needs, such as potholes, by providing a web portal and phone number for reporting potholes.  In fact, state law requires NCDOT to repair potholes within two business days of receiving a report from a citizen on the issue.


§         Because NCDOT’s focus is generally on larger roads, smaller roads on their system may not rank as highly as the larger streets.  Also, some of NCDOT’s maintenance methods don’t make as much sense for smaller streets and by taking over the maintenance responsibility on these streets, we can ensure a better experience for our citizens.  For example, NCDOT generally recommends a patch and overlay process for subdivision roads, which can result in drainage issues on streets with curb and gutter.  In contrast, we mill out the existing pavement and then resurface which keeps the gutters clear to carry runoff to the drainage system instead of having that capacity taken up by an asphalt overlay.


§         Access management needs are different on arterial type streets, which carry people through Cary, then on collectors or thoroughfares, which carry people around Cary. The frequency of driveways and street intersections affect the capacity of roads and the arterial type streets are all about capacity, moving people through.  By having NCDOT look after the operational needs on these streets we are putting the work in the right place and we have a strong relationship with NCDOT where we collaborate and make access management decisions together.  Conversely, by taking over maintenance of the collector and local streets, we can offer more flexibility on driveway and street intersections than NCDOT, since their rules apply to the entire state. 


Discussion:  Periodically, Cary and NCDOT review Cary’s public roadway network to determine if there are street corridors available for consideration of maintenance exchange.  As these roadway corridors are identified, both parties review the streets for improvements which need to be made prior to exchanging these corridors.  Some examples of identified improvements are patching, resurfacing, additional testing, or inspection.  Improvements needed to Cary streets before they are exchanged with NCDOT are funded through our Capital Improvement Program.


Cary staff and NCDOT have worked together to establish a recommended list for 2019 street maintenance exchange. 



Major Thoroughfares to the NCDOT

If approved, the following major thoroughfares owned and currently maintained by Cary would be added to NCDOT’s system and maintained by NCDOT going forward.



Major Thoroughfare to NCDOT

Total Length

Morrisville Parkway from NC 55 to the eastern end of the construction of Morrisville Parkway Extension and NC 540 Interchange Project

0.75 miles

Morrisville Parkway from the western end of the construction of Morrisville Parkway Extension and NC 540 Interchange Project to Green Level Church Road)

0.43 miles

NW Cary Parkway from Evans Road to N. Harrison Avenue

1.73 miles


2.91 miles



Figure 1: Limits of Morrisville Parkway exchange

The anticipated completion of the Morrisville Parkway Extension and NC 540 Interchange project next winter will complete a very significant portion of Morrisville Parkway between NC 55 and Green Level Church Road.  The portions of Morrisville Parkway not included in the interchange project were completed with various private developments along the corridor.  Construction along each of the developments was coordinated with NCDOT to ensure the construction would meet NCDOT standards in anticipation of turning over street maintenance responsibilities to NCDOT.   Included as part of this maintenance exchange, NCDOT has asked the Town to provide a one-year warranty for any deficiencies outside of normal wear and tear.  With this exchange, all of Morrisville Parkway, within Cary limits, will be maintained by NCDOT.  We are retaining maintenance of the medians and pedestrian facilities on this street, including the pedestrian underpasses which carry Green Hope School Greenway and Green Level Greenway across Morrisville Parkway.



Figure 2: Limits of NW Cary Parkway exchange

The NW Cary Parkway project (ST1230) conducted significant maintenance repairs to prepare the road for the maintenance exchange with NCDOT, including repairs to the bridge over black Creek Greenway.  The project was completed in November of 2018 and with this exchange, all of Cary Parkway will be maintained by NCDOT.


Minor Streets to Cary


If approved, the following minor streets owned and currently maintained by NCDOT would be added to Cary’s system and maintained by Cary going forward.


Minor Roadways to Cary

Total Length

Turner Creek Road from NC 55 to end of State maintenance east of the western entrance to Turner Creek Elementary School

0.21 miles

Piney Plains Road from Walnut Street to Dillard Drive

0.46 miles

Old Raleigh Road from western intersection with Auto Park Boulevard to Gregson Drive

0.63 miles

Gregson Drive from US 64 to Old Raleigh Road

0.06 miles


1.36 miles


Cary staff requested NCDOT address maintenance concerns prior to moving forward with the exchange of these streets.  The noted sections of Piney Plains Road, Old Raleigh Road, and Gregson Drive are included in NCDOT’s current year resurfacing contract, and a one-year warranty on materials and workmanship for these streets will be included.


Figure 3: Limits of Turner Creek Road Exchange


Figure 4: Limits of Piney Plains Road Exchange


Figure 5: Limits of Old Raleigh Road and Gregson Drive Exchange

Fiscal Impact


The State provides funds annually (referred to as “Powell Bill” funds) which are to be used for maintaining, repairing, constructing, and widening of streets that are the responsibility of the Town. Powell Bill funds are calculated 75 percent by population and 25 percent by street mileage, regardless of the number of lanes within the street. Funding for the current system is structured toward the State maintaining major thoroughfares that carry regional traffic and local jurisdictions maintaining minor streets that carry local traffic.


This proposed exchange is expected to decrease future Powell Bill revenues by approximately $10,000. In FY 2019, the Town received $3,886,278 in Powell Bill revenues, so this proposed decrease would not materially impact the Town’s street maintenance funding.   Further, maintenance costs can be expected to decrease as the Town will be responsible for less total street mileage. 


Next Steps:  Staff will submit the attached Resolution to NCDOT and work with NCDOT to complete the street exchange, including approval by the State Board of Transportation, updating the Powell Bill map, and recording the speed limits.  Speed limits adoption will require a future action by Council.