IS SWIFT CREEK REALLY VERY SWIFT?  - WELL IT DEPENDS....

Many of our readers and neighbors do not even realize that they pass over Wake County’s Swift Creek when they travel on US1 near Tryon Road, along Regency Parkway, on portions of Kildaire Farm Road and Holly Springs Road as well.

 

For the curious who want to sneak a peek at Swift Creek, you can walk the Swift Creek Greenway between Regency Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road (park at Ritter Park), walk the Swift Creek Loop Trail in Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve on Kildaire Farm Road, or hike in Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve (7800 Holly Springs Road).

For those who want more than just a glimpse of Swift Creek as it meanders quietly amongst us please consider the following:

According to some reports, the Swift Creek watershed comprises more than 66 square miles and the headwater tributaries that create Swift Creek seem to begin in Cary and Apex on the west side of US 1.  Swift Creek eventually passes through Lake Wheeler and while some studies suggest that this watershed terminates at the dam of Lake Benson in Garner, there are also thoughts that Swift Creek may ramble all the way to the Neuse River near Smithfield.

swift1.jpg

According to the Upper Neuse Basin Association website at http://archive.unrba.org/swift/index.shtml its major tributaries include Williams Creek, MacGregor Downs Lake, Regency Park Lake, Long Branch, Lynn Branch, Speight Branch, Dutchmans Branch, Silver Lake, Yates Mill Pond, Buck Branch, and Reedy Branch and that upper Swift Creek has been identified by the State of North Carolina as an "impaired stream" because it does not adequately support aquatic life.

swift2.jpg

Possible causes of impairment may include excess storm water from urban development, lack of riparian vegetation in many areas, pesticides, fertilizers, oils, and other pollutants that flow directly into the creek through storm drains, and "illicit” discharges which include chemical or sewage spills into the storm water system or the stream.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wake County, Raleigh, Cary, Garner and Apex jointly developed (with the North Carolina Division of Water Quality) and adopted the Swift Creek Land Management

Plan to manage development in the Swift Creek watershed, which contains Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson watersheds.

In Cary, much of Swift Creek is protected by the Swift Creek Critical Area and Watershed, and part of its floodplain has been aside as conservation and recreational land including in Hemlock Bluffs State Park, Lochmere Park, and Lochmere Golf Course.

Wherever it may begin or end, much of Swift Creek’s life is spent out of the sight to most of us and thus is a safe haven for many of the birds, small animals, fish, and turtles that thrive in the protected Swift Creek watershed.

But is Swift Creek really “swift”as it name suggests?  Well this may depend on when and where you see it. If it has recently rained, one might say that it runs very very swift. In fact, it may be so high and swift that it might be difficult to navigate all parts of the trails and greenways that border it.  And during dryer periods, its waters may be clearer and it may move sluggishly below its banks – not very swiftly at all!

swift3.jpg

Swift or Slow….. Well it depends!

Please visit the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve web page at https://www.triangleland.org/explore/nature-preserves/swift-creek-bluffs-nature-preserve  to learn more about this preserve and how you can see for yourself our own Swift Creek in one of its most natural and protected environments.

ONE OF THE TOP MOST DANGEROUS CARY INTERSECTIONS

The Cary Police Department indicates that the intersection at the end of the exit ramp from US1 south turning onto US64 west is one of the top locations for vehicular accidents in the Town of Cary. In the first 10 months of 2019 there have been 92 crashes (including four hit and runs) in that area.  

This intersection is “right turn on red” for traffic at the bottom of the exit ramp from US1 south turning right onto US64 west. The right-most of the two turn lanes has no clear view of approaching traffic heading west on US64 from Tryon Road.   Almost all of the accidents here were rear end collisions caused by the right-turning lead vehicle (exiting US1) being hit from behind as a result of the lead vehicle stopping abruptly when entering this intersection.

While this in part may be due to the curvature of this exit lane, the larger problem may be that vehicles in the left turn lane limit the sight-line of vehicles in the right turn lane.

While making this a “no turn on red” intersection may seem like the logical solution to this problem, this may result in other complications including longer backups on US1 south in both exit lanes during peak travel periods. Another alternative may be to increase the duration of green lights for traffic exiting US1 onto US64 while still making this a “no turn on red” intersection – However, this may increase delays for thru traffic heading west from Tryon Road.

The Town of Cary traffic engineering department is working with NC-DOT to remedy this situation and have advised that a plan is already in place to make that intersection a “no right turn on red”.  Part of this plan calls for lane and intersection changes to accommodate the anticipated additional queuing on the US1 exit ramps. 

The improvements at this location are part of a larger DOT plan for US64 Improvements in Apex & Cary that calls for an investigation of options to improve the flow of traffic in Wake County along US64 and intersecting roadways from just west of Laura Duncan Road in Apex to US1 in Cary.

At the present time, the plans to actually initiate the preliminary engineering activities necessary to start these improvements have been temporarily suspended because the NC-DOT needs to control its spending in order to ensure that their cash reserves remain above the state-mandated minimum figure of about $300 million. As a result NC-DOT is currently on a spending freeze pending budget negotiations. A timeline to when this project is to be implemented is unknown at this time.

Earlier this month (Nov 2019) there were media reports that said that some of the suspended projects might have their pre-engineering work resume early next year. The decisions as to what projects to resume will be made on a case by case basis depending on several factors, including when a project is scheduled to start. The NC-DOT is currently trying to determine if that may be the case for this project. No further information is available at this time.

NC-DOT indicated that it is very likely that no final decision on resuming work on specific projects will be made until next year when they know their financial picture is improved. They also indicated that preference will be given to the projects that are scheduled to start the earliest or perhaps those that already had much of the pre-engineering work completed.

During the period before any improvements are made, the Cary Police Department advises drivers that they are the most important factor in reducing accidents and injuries at this location. Many rear-end collisions occur because drivers may follow the vehicle in front of them too closely and do not allow sufficient distance to stop if the driver in front of them stops abruptly for no apparent reason. Another cause for these types of collisions is distractions from cell phones, GPS, or simply diverting attention to anything other than the obstacles in front of the car.  

Please drive safely and obey all traffic laws and regulations, not only at this intersection but in all of your travels. You are the best defense against serious bodily injury and damage to personal property, others, and yourself!