Highway projects hope to make the grade: Clemmons, Bermuda Run have highly ranked projects on MPO Prioritization 7.0 list

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 4, 2024

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CLEMMONS — With two highway projects currently ranked among the top 10 for the 2026-2035 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) Development Plan, there’s a lot on the line for these local municipalities. 

Bermuda Run currently has the No. 1 ranking on the Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Prioritization 7.0 list of local point assignment methodology for Project H184620 that would widen N.C. 801 to a multi-lane roadway from Oak Valley Boulevard to U.S. 158 with bike lanes and sidewalks at a cost to NCDOT of $49.8 million.

Clemmons occupies the No. 9 spot on the list for Project H230557 going from the Bermuda Run roundabout to Harper Road and widening the existing U.S. 158 roadway to a 3-lane section with curb and gutter, bike lanes and sidewalks from Harper Road to Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Middlebrook Drive at a cost to NCDOT of $24.1 million.

Council member Bradley Taylor, who serves as the village’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) representative, said that this project is very similar to one that was proposed in the past.

“This would be a great opportunity for us,” he said, “especially with this being a highway project with no local match replied.”

In last week’s council meeting, Taylor also wanted to stress the importance of residents being a part of the process during a public comment period that runs through July 15. Those wanting to help the cause for Clemmons can scroll down the village’s homepage, clemmons.org, and use the interactive map.

Then click the link “Help pick the next transportation project” and on the map, locate Clemmons and H230557 by zooming in to see the options of Like, Dislike or Project Comment: Select one and click anywhere along the H230557 project.

“The exciting part is that we need all the public to chime in and like this project,” Taylor said. “That would allow some additional points to go toward that ranking.”

As for where the lone Clemmons project on the list ultimately needs to land and have the best chance for funding, Taylor said he wasn’t totally sure.

“Based on the conversation from TAC staff, there were more than 35 projects submitted, but we could only push forward 35,” he said. “With that being said, funding is always a key challenge. I’d say the higher on the priority list, the more likely a project will get funding allocated and be scheduled in the next STIP plan for 2026-2035.” 

Meanwhile, Bermuda Run holds not only the top position among those on the priority list but also is part of four total projects in Davie in the top 35.

The others are:

  • Project H090546, which is ranked No. 17, (U.S. 158/Baltimore Road/N.C. 801), widen existing facility to a 2-lane section with a center-turn lane (3-lane cross section) with curb and gutter, bike lanes and sidewalk; and add additional turn lanes at the intersection of N.C. 801 and an additional thru lane on NB N.C. 801 at the same intersection with a cost to NCDOT of $24.1 million.
  • Project H185121, which is ranked No. 18, (U.S. 158/N.C. 801), upgrade intersection by adding a left-turn lane on U.S. 158 EB to achieve dual lefts onto N.C. 801 north; also add right-thru lane and right-turn lane on N.C. 158 at the intersection of U.S. 158, with a cost to NCDOT of $7.3 million.
  • Project H185085, which is ranked No. 30, (N.C. 801/Yadkin Valley Road/Redland Road), widen existing facility to a 2-lane section with a center-turn lane (3-lane cross section) with curb and gutter, bike lanes and sidewalks, with a cost to NCDOT of $53.5 million.

Mayor Mike Brannon, who also is the town’s TAC representative, said that the list of candidate projects for Prioritization 7.0 was developed over a year ago based on input from the WSUAMPO members. Those projects were then evaluated by NCDOT and the MPO resulting in the costs estimates and initial rankings with each TAC member having the option of assigning 40 points to a Regional Impact project.

With all four projects in or near Bermuda Run being part of the mix and not being able to split its 40 points, Brannon said that it was important to choose the one project that would provide the greatest benefit for the area.

“Because Davie County is also a member of the WSUAMPO, they too have 40 points to assign to a project,” Brannon said. “In discussions with Davie County Commissioner Benita Finney, who also serves on the WSUAMPO, she also supported the project to widen N.C. 801 as we jointly agreed that this would benefit eastern and northeastern Davie County, given how important this corridor is. So, this resulted in a total of 80 points for this project.”

Then, Brannon said, Mayor Mike Horn of Lewisville reached out to him to share that his town did not have any local Prioritization 7.0 projects and asked what project Bermuda Run was hoping to accomplish. 

“I shared the details of that project, Brannon said, “and he agreed to apply his points to this project as well.”

Now, during the public input period that runs through July 15, Brannon said he has encouraged residents to provide feedback on these projects and let everyone know the town “was in competition with others in project ranking and funding and this was the time to have their voices heard.”

Brannon added that although that Project H184620 is ranked No. 1 for now, it’s still important to share this message through multiple communication channels.

“My singular goal is to ensure this project ranked high enough to cement its place as a confirmed project that is fully funded,” Brannon said. “For Bermuda Run, there are other projects on the list that we, Davie County and NCDOT submitted. While it would be wonderful to accomplish all of these projects, it was my goal to ensure the most critical project — widening N.C. 801 — is completed. The other projects have merit — especially the widening of U.S. 158 from Baltimore Road to the U.S. 158/NC 801 intersection. 

“However, given construction is scheduled to begin on the new Baltimore Road connector to I-40, it seems that project — when complete — will significantly improve traffic issues along U.S. 158 as much of that traffic volume will use the new connector to access I-40.

“Again, with the points system used by the WSUAMPO, it does require each member to be especially thoughtful in selecting projects with the precious points we each have. Because the planning work we are doing now will likely take years to come to fruition with a completed project, the time and energy we invest today will pay dividends years from now.” 

STIP is an evolving 10-year financial plan for funding and constructing transportation projects in the state. The points assigned will impact the funding decisions for these projects.

The Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WSUAMPO) is on the record as saying the comments received will help them determine how to allocate up to 2,400 local input points across 35 projects — adding that because 15 percent of a project’s final score is determined by local input and that projects being selected to receive the maximum 100 local input points by the MPO are more likely to achieve a competitive score to be selected for programming in the STIP by NCDOT.

The final allocation for points toward these projects will be voted on by the TAC at the July 18 virtual meeting with the Regional Impact Total Scores and Programmed Projects released by the end of September.