Lewisville receives update on Great Wagon Road
Published 12:06 am Thursday, April 20, 2023
NCDOT official says construction for long-anticipated project could start in second half of 2024
The longtime dream of the Great Wagon Road in downtown Lewisville is finally getting closer to becoming a reality.
Connie James, NCDOT Division 9 project engineer, gave an update in last Thursday night’s town council meeting, stating that the ongoing design is currently in right-of-way acquisition, followed by utility relocations and projections to put the project out for bids in June 2024.
“We typically see anywhere between 45 to 60 days to allow contracts to be executed and the administration portion of that,” James said, meaning construction could start in the August/September 2024 time frame if everything goes according to plan. “Then it would be two to two and a half years after that (for completion).”
The 1.0-mile extension of the Great Wagon Road extension runs parallel to Shallowford Road and incorporates the existing section between David McKee and North streets. The multi-modal project proposes to construct a three-lane thoroughfare with accommodations for on-street parking, sidewalks, bicycle lanes and four roundabouts.
Many preliminary plans were made by the town going back to the 1990s, including establishing a reserve fund for future land acquisition for construction of the Great Wagon Road. The project officially started moving forward in 2015 when CDM Smith was hired as the engineering firm.
There was a NCDOT meeting in 2019 to receive more public input and answer questions about the project in town hall with plans then calling for right-of-way acquisition to start in 2020 and construction to begin in 2023.
However, later in 2019 came word from NCDOT that budgetary challenges were putting all preconstruction activities on hold, and that was followed by COVID-19 in 2020. So, like all other road projects, this one got delayed as well.
Mayor Mike Horn said that the town has been talking more about the Great Wagon Road lately, and it’s exciting to be getting to the point where it’s finally going to happen.
“This is going to require some patience as we work through it, but I think when the project is over with, everybody will be just be absolutely pleased and thrilled with what it is going to mean to our residents and to our downtown,” Horn said.
Also in last Thursday night’s meeting, James Ayers, who took over as the new town manager last October, presented his first budget message.
“I’m pleased to report we are proposing a budget that is balanced while maintaining the current property tax rate of 17.7 cents per $100 of valuation,” Ayers said. “Further, the proposed budget will continue current services and service levels, plus we will keep working on all the projects authorized by town council.”
Ayers said that the proposed general fund budget is $6,113,377 for fiscal year 2023-2024, adding that the town is projecting a fund balance appropriation of $332,107 for project-related costs that are not recurring operational expenses.
And by keeping the tax rate steady at 17.7 cents, he calculates that one penny in tax rate generates approximately $168,826 in revenues.
To which, Horn replied to longtime council members Fred Franklin and Ken Sadler: “I know we’ve been around long enough that we remember when one cent on the tax rate was about $72,000, and that was a few moons ago. That just demonstrates how the town has grown over these years. I know I speak for the council when I say we are so excited about where we are at this point in time as a community.“
Also, the town has a municipal service district, and the proposed budget for the Willow Run MSD is $39,352. The proposed tax rate for this district is unchanged at 5 cents per $100 valuation.
Ayers said that the council has shown that it is fiscally prudent by saving up for big projects by creating five capital reserve funds, including accounts for sidewalks/bike paths and greenways, municipal buildings and land, a future Public Works facility, parks and recreation, and the Great Wagon Road.
Ayers noted that there are multiple sidewalk projects and transportation projects in progress. He added there is also a big parks and recreation project underway that will design and construct improvements at Jack Warren Park, including a disc golf course, an amphitheater and walking trails.
Budget work sessions are scheduled over the next couple of weeks, followed by a budget public hearing for the next council meeting on Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m.
In other business, the council approved a resolution authorizing auditing services for fiscal year 2022-23 with Gibson & Company and approved a resolution awarding a street paving contract with Yadkin Valley Paving Inc. for $425,064.
In upcoming events, Ayers said that Lewisville Earth Day (LED), which is hosted by the town’s Environmental, Conservation and Sustainability Committee, will be held Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shallowford Square.
Attendees are encouraged to bring special recycling items and receive a free LED bulb. The event will feature yoga, music, exhibits and vendors. Food trucks also will be available.
The concert season at the square gets off to a patriotic start on Memorial Day with the Military Appreciation Concert on Monday, May 29, at 6 p.m. featuring The Embers.