Pleasant Plains Road and Potter Road (P3) Project Summary - As of 06-03-2022
Brief Summary Update:
After many years of collaboration with NCDOT for improvements to the state road intersection of Pleasant Plains Road/Potter Road, the Town Council authorized staff in March 2022 to continue to work with NCDOT to potentially combine the Potter/Pleasant Plains project with the Old Monroe Road project under NCDOT’s administration. The Town hopes that NCDOT can bring about further cost reductions with greater economies of scale. When this action is solidified, a timeline for the combined project can be projected.
For a complete history and explanation of the project, please see below.
The Town executed a municipal agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to administer an intersection improvement project in the Potter Road and Pleasant Plains Road corridor (P3 Project). This project includes the following components:
- Construction of left turn lanes in each quadrant;
- Pedestrian sidewalk construction;
- Curb and gutter construction;
- Water and sewer improvements;
- Installation of signage, roadway striping, traffic signals and metal traffic signal poles (mast arms); and
- Drainage improvements.
These improvements will improve mobility, traffic movement efficiency, safety, and assist in potential redevelopment in the area.
It should be noted that this is a state road under NCDOT jurisdiction and the Town took on the challenge of securing funds, designing the project, and overseeing construction in an attempt to move the construction of this much needed project forward.
Below is the timeline to date for the P3 Project:
- May 25, 2013: Notice to proceed issued to the design engineer for design, survey and geotechnical work
- October 15, 2013: 25% Design Plans submitted
- January 11, 2014: NCDOT and Town of Stallings Interlocal Agreement for funding executed
- January 28, 2014: Union County and Town of Stallings Interlocal Agreement for sewer improvements funding executed
- May 14, 2014: 70% Design Plans submitted
- December 5, 2014: 90% Design Plans submitted
- March 4, 2015 to April 10, 2015: Design Plan updates
- April 21, 2015 to February 15, 2017: Utility design coordination and updates based on comments from Union County Public Works
- February 17, 2016: Right-of-way acquisition approval from NCDOT
- June 28, 2016: Notice to proceed issued to right-of-way acquisition consultant
- December 19, 2018: Right-of-way field certification from NCDOT
- November 15, 2018: 100% Design Plans submitted
- March 14, 2019: 100% Design Plans updated (based on NCDOT comments) and submitted
- May 1, 2019: Updated contract documents based on NCDOT comments
- March 28, 2019: Right-of-way reimbursement from NCDOT
- May 13, 2019: Erosion and Sediment Control Permit from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR)
- December 11, 2019: Duke utility relocations complete
- March 3, 2020: Spectrum utility relocations complete
- August 2020: Windstream Utility relocations complete
- April 2020: Project placed on hold by NCDOT due to anticipated COVID related funding shortfalls
- February 8, 2021: NCDOT Construction Phase Hold lifted.
- March 26, 2021: An updated project cost was prepared by the design consultant showing an estimated overage of $3,649,367 beyond the approved reimbursement costs per the interlocal agreements with NCDOT and Union County.
The updated project cost estimate presented a total project cost that has escalated significantly due to current market conditions, right-of-way costs, and other factors. This updated estimate of cost results in an anticipated gap between the cost of the project and the reimbursement allowance to the Town from NCDOT and Union County that, at $4,279,358.21, is significantly more than what was budgeted by the Town. To move forward with the project, the Town is required to cover the cost overage in addition to the $491,437 of non-reimbursable expenses paid by the Town to date. This additional cost, if covered by the Town, would essentially deplete the majority of the Town’s available fund balance reserves.
Since the updated project cost estimate was provided in late March, the Town has been diligent in coordinating a solution to covering the gap between the project cost and the available reimbursement funds. This effort has been conducted with a three-fold approach as outlined below:
- The Town has been working diligently with NCDOT and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) to identify and aggressively pursue available funding dollars to help cover the additional project costs. The Town submitted an application on April 30, 2021 requesting the maximum amount possible of $2,197,110 in additional project funds. On June 17, 2021, the Town was informed that CRTPO had approved budget shortfall funding in the amount of $2,197,600 which requires an additional 20% Town match of $549,400.
- The Town has been coordinating with state elected officials in an effort to secure additional project funds from other sources.
- The Town has requested that NCDOT provide road repairs at the P3 intersection to address the immediate need for maintenance until construction begins. On June 21, 2021, NCDOT made some patching to the roadway. NCDOT believes that a complete resurfacing job would be needed for this intersection at an estimated cost of about $300,000. NCDOT does not want to spend such a large amount of public monies if the intersection may get ripped up in the next year if construction were to began on the project. As a result, NCDOT has indicated it will provide those resurfacing funds to help with project costs but patch the intersection in the meantime.
After factoring additional CRTPO budget shortfall funding, the Town’s estimated additional out of pocket cost for this project is $2,081,758.21 including a combined 25% contingency and escalation factor. In contrast, the original 2014 agreement with NCDOT appears to contemplate a local commitment of $400,000 (not including design).
On July 12, 2021, Town officials met with NCDOT staff and board officials to request further assistance on this project given this is a State intersection. NCDOT officials committed to further researching options and following-up with the Town.
Also, on July 12, 2021, the Town Council decided to:
- Use Town funds to allow NCDOT to add several left turn signal phases to help with traffic congestion at the intersection until permanent improvements are constructed. Per NCDOT, the additional left turn phases would be on Potter Road heading north and turning left onto Pleasant Plains Road, and also on Pleasant Plains Road heading east to turn left onto Potter Road. After the local NCDOT office receives approval from Raleigh for a satisfactory agreement (estimated to take “several weeks” per NCDOT), the estimated time frame for implementation is between 9 to 16 weeks.
- To continue to press our State elected officials for additional funds. Our state elected officials report that it will likely be several months before the Town knows if it will receive additional funds due to the state budget process.
- To continue to press NCDOT for further assistance.
On 7/26/21, NCDOT has indicated that it is nearing final approval of the left turn phase agreement and should be able to provide the agreement to the Town for execution “soon”.
On 8/5/21, NCDOT indicated that it would do everything in its power to have the left turn phases installed by the end of September. This is an increased implementation timeline from the initial 9 to 16 week estimate.
On 8/12/21, state elected officials shared with the Town that the draft state budget approved by the NC House of Representatives includes $1.6 million for the Potter/Pleasant Plains intersection. It was reported to the Town the funds will need to remain in the budget as it goes through the conference process with the NC Senate. If the intersection funding remains after discussions with the Senate, then both chambers will need to approve the budget and then the Governor will need to sign the budget to make it official. It was reported to the Town that “[i]t will be a while until it is finalized.” The details of this funding, such as what restrictions might come with it, are not yet clear.
On 8/18/21, Rep. Arp’s office confirmed that the $1.6 million in the NC House’s approved budget could be used towards the Town’s local match for the Potter/Pleasant Plains intersection project (if the funding remains after discussions with the Senate, both chambers approved the budget, and then the Governor signs the budget into law).
On 09-15-2021, NCDOT installed left turn phases at the Potter/Pleasant Plains intersection. The Town paid NCDOT to have these installed in an effort to help the flow of traffic in the interim. For signaling concerns with the left turn phase, please contact Anthony Tagliaferri with NCDOT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of 10-05-2021, there is still no known agreed upon budget between the General Assembly and the NC Governor.
On 11-09-21, the Town was informed that the NC Senate had agreed to put $1.6 million in the state budget but had added language indicating that the $1.6 million in funding “shall be used exclusively for property owned by the grant recipient city, county, or regional council of government.” It was reported to the Town that the Senate put this additional language into the budget over concerns that projects receiving additional grants would unfairly move ahead of other transportation projects on the State’s “STIP” ranking system (which prioritizes funding for state transportation projects based on a scoring criteria). However, this additional language is potentially problematic because the Town had requested these funds to help with the Potter/Pleasant Plains intersection and this intersection is mostly owned by the State (and not the Town).
Subsequently, the Town tried urgently to get this potentially problematic language changed. However, these efforts were unsuccessful as the state budget was signed into law on 11/18/21. The Town is currently assessing and exploring all legal options to see if there might be a way the Town could legally and ethically use these funds, either directly or indirectly, to help close the budget deficit on the Potter/Pleasant Plains intersection project.
On 1/10/22, the Town Council went over the outstanding issues including:
- Waiting for a determination from the NC Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) on whether the Town could use the $1.6 million in state funds towards other certain Town expenditures and thus free up equivalent funds that could potentially be applied towards the intersection project.
- Updating plans and permits. There are 2 factors in this:
- 1.) Redesigning some of the utility work per Union County’s request. The estimated additional design fee is $9,000 with projected construction cost savings are estimated to be reduced by $145,570. The Council authorized staff to spend $9,000 to update the design per the County’s request.
- 2.) Due to the passage of time, several items related to the design have become outdated. When it is decided to let the project, it will take several months of work to get the project let.
- Prior to updating these plans, funding should be finalized so that plans do not need to be updated an additional time in the future (and further costs incurred).
- NCDOT supplemental agreement – This will likely take at least a couple months from Town Council authorizing approval to having a final executed supplemental agreement.
- CEI Selection – This can be done concurrently with the permit updating and letting process and is not projected to cause any further delays.
On 1/12/22, Town officials met with NCDOT to further discuss the State providing funding to help with the intersection project. NCDOT officials offered several potential additional funding options and committed to exploring those options further and following-up with the Town.
On 1/14/22, NCDOT confirmed that $57,500 in HSIP funds left over from another project can be applied towards this project.
On 1/21/22, the Town again requested verification from the State on how to verify whether the $1.6 million in state funds towards other certain Town expenditures and thus free up equivalent funds that could potentially be applied towards the intersection project.
On 1/21/22, a State representative gave a very preliminary opinion that was positive towards allowing the Town to use the $1.6 million in state funds towards certain other certain Town expenditures and thus free up equivalent funds that could potentially be applied towards the intersection project. However, this is just a very preliminary determination and the State indicated it will make a final determination on project specifics during the scope of work phase of the grant process. The Town hopes to receive a final determination from the State in the February/March timeframe.
On 1/24/22, NCDOT indicated it was agreeable to allowing $300,000 in repaving funds as a match for federal funds if needed or as part of the base project cost. Previously, these funds were just allowed for cost overruns.
On 2/7/22, NCDOT requested an updated cost estimate on the project. The Town’s engineering consultant is reviewing the last project cost estimate for verification.
On 2/14/22, the NC OBSM office communicated that the $1.6 million in state grant funds could not be used for the Town’s selected expenditures which essentially means the project has an estimated project budget deficit of approximately $1.58 million (this may be adjusted once a new cost estimate is determined per the note on 2/7/22 above). The Town Council met and determined that the Town would continue to press NCDOT to provide additional funding, inquire as to the reasons behind the State’s decision regarding the $1.6 million, communicate with our contact on the NCDOT Board, and research additional funding options.
From 2/15/22 to 2/18/22, NCDOT and Town staff met several times to review new construction estimates and work towards closing the project funding deficit. The new construction estimates show a significant increase in the estimated project deficit and all parties are working towards verifying these numbers. At the same time, NCDOT is gathering information on the statewide contingency funding process and how such funds can be requested.
On 2/28/22, the Town Council decided it was interested in pursuing statewide contingency funds, in determining if ARPA funds are eligible for this project, and are interested in NCDOT taking over this project and making it part of the Old Monroe Road project (due to the potential overlap between the projects, potential cost reductions due to economies of scale, and NCDOT’s greater capacity to manage state road projects). The Town is exploring these potential options.
On 3/17/22, the Governor signed a budget technical corrections bill into law which would likely allow the Town to use $1.6 million to reimburse itself for certain Town expenditures and thus free up equivalent funds that could be potentially put towards the intersection project.
On 3/28/22, the Town Council authorized staff to continue to work with NCDOT to potentially combine the Potter/Pleasant Plains project with the Old Monroe Road project under the NCDOT’s administration and to tentatively put an additional $1.6 million towards the budget deficit contingent on all parties agreeing on a detailed agreement. The Town hopes that NCDOT can bring about further cost reductions to help close the estimated budget deficit with greater economies of scale.
On 6/3/22, NCDOT reported to the Town indicating it was working through some details on their end regarding taking over the Potter/Pleasant Plains project, and would follow-up with the Town in the near future.
The Town appreciates your patience as we navigate the funding shortfall issue while working to expedite the construction of the P3 project. We will provide updates over the next few months as additional information becomes available.