By Richard Sullins |

A repaving of Third Street that will convert it from four lanes to two road with a center turning lane is set to begin this month. The project will create the backbone for a new bicycle network across nearly two miles of downtown Sanford.

Third Street is a north-south route that serves as an arterial roadway for the city, linking residential neighborhoods east of the railroad tracks to the downtown area. Funding for the project was approved earlier this year by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. At an estimated cost of $228,788, the existing four-lane road will be repaved from Weatherspoon Street to Horner Boulevard.

As the road is restriped after the paving is completed, the street will be reduced from four lanes to two 11 foot travel lanes, with an additional 10-to-11-foot center lane between Weatherspoon Street and Courtland Drive and a minimum 4 foot bicycle lane on both sides of the road. The speed limit for the 10,000 feet of roadway will be fixed at 35 mph from end to end.

The intersections at Charlotte Avenue, McIver Street, and Rose Street will be converted from stop lights to four-way intersections. The Courtland Drive intersection will be a thru-way on Third Street, with cars coming to a full stop on Courtland.

In 1976, a DOT projection was that traffic on Third Street would reach 20,000 vehicles per day by 2020. A more recent count determined that the actual number averages about 2,500 vehicles per day in 2021, and that Charlotte Avenue averages twice as many vehicles per day as does Third Street. S.T. Wooten is the contractor for the project.