2021 Transportation Bond
During the November 2021 general election, citizens of Apex will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed transportation bond. The bond referendum, for an amount up to $42 million, will be used solely for transportation projects.
Bond projects were selected based on many factors, including the results of:
- Citizen Satisfaction Survey – The 2020 survey of citizens identifies management of traffic and overall maintenance of Town streets as top priorities.
- Advance Apex: The 2045 Transportation Plan – Advance Apex prioritizes the three major roadway projects proposed for bond funding and completing sidewalk connections that create safe bicycle and pedestrian routes to schools.
- The Downtown Master Plan and Parking Study – The Downtown Plan recommends creating multimodal connections to downtown, including improving pedestrian crossings over the railroad at Center Street and Chatham Street.
- Internal processes including staff and Council ranking of Capital Improvement Program projects, and formation of Council strategic goals
Road Rehabilitation Projects: The Basics
- Estimated Cost: $5 million
- Addresses current backlog of streets in need of rehabilitation
- Uses new pavement technologies to keep our roads functioning reliably for years longer
This one-time expenditure catches up on our backlog of streets in need of rehabilitation. Apex evaluates street conditions on an annual basis, with the goals of maintaining roadway conditions at the lowest cost, and providing a safe and reliable transportation system.
Without these funds, we would continue to lag behind on street maintenance needs, and the overall condition of streets would degrade. Maintenance costs over time would greatly increase, and reach an unsustainable level.
Major Road Construction Projects: The Basics
- Estimated Cost: $29 million
- Completes the Apex Peakway southwest connection from NC55 to S. Salem Street
- Widens Apex Peakway between Center Street and Old Raleigh Road
- Begins the connection of Jessie Drive from Ten-Ten Road to NC55
Apex Peakway Southwest Connector
Fills the funding gap to complete the connection of the Apex Peakway between NC55 and S. Salem Street. A portion of funds from a 2015 bond were used toward design, permitting, and right of way acquisition. The design approvals from CSXT and NCDOT as well as necessary right of way acquisition are expected in 2021, but there is a shortfall in funds needed for construction. Increases in construction costs over time have substantially contributed to the shortfall, along with enhancements to the design to address public input, extend sidewalk, and add lanes and traffic signals.
The southwest connection of the Apex Peakway loop is important as it serves as an alternate route to NC 55 and Salem Street, provides multimodal connectivity to areas both north and south of S. Salem Street, and provides a crossing of the railroad separated from train traffic. Without bond funds it is unlikely the Town will be able to complete this project.
Apex Peakway North Widening
Widens an existing two-lane portion of Apex Peakway from Center Street to Old Raleigh Road. This section of the Apex Peakway is experiencing increasing congestion and delays. The widening project would increase the capacity of the roadway to four-lanes.
Jessie Dr. Phase 1
Jessie Drive is shown on the long range transportation plan as a four-lane roadway extending from Ten Ten Road, south of Knight’s Play Golf Center to NC 55, south of the Fire Station. The future thoroughfare is designated as a freight route, connects two major roadways, and serves an area of high projected growth and economic development. Construction of Jessie Drive between NC 55 and Ten Ten Road is anticipated in two phases. The bond funds would be used for Phase I – Ten Ten Road to Production Drive, with a portion of the project overlapping developer-committed improvements as part of the Horton Park subdivision. This first phase would improve local connections to Ten Ten Road, serve economic development projects, and position the Town to compete for federal funding for Phase II. Final design for Phase I is underway now.
Pedestrian Projects: The Basics
- Estimated Cost: $9 million
- Accelerates completion of sidewalk and crosswalk construction and enhancements to provide pedestrian routes to Apex schools
- Improves railroad crossings and completes sidewalk gaps along two gateways to downtown Apex
- Removes a barrier to pedestrian travel by completing a sidewalk gap along a major roadway
Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Projects
In 2018, an initial analysis of all sidewalk needs to provide safe pedestrian routes to every school in Apex was completed based on analysis of existing facilities, travel patterns, input from school officials, crash data, traffic volumes, and the availability of alternate routes. Each year, the Town is able to address a few of the needs identified. Bond funds would drastically accelerate this process. The specific projects and priorities would be refined and adjusted over the life of the bond based on updated analyses, changing travel patterns and conditions, completion of projects by development, and grouping projects so that they can be completed as efficiently as possible to leverage public funds. The goal would be to address all needs identified as a high priority.
Downtown Railroad Crossing Pedestrian Improvements
These two projects include the addition of sidewalk across CSX railroad tracks as well as installation of gates and associated railroad equipment upgrades at Center Street and at Chatham Street. Improvements at the crossings would go toward the Town’s Quiet Zone eligibility for the S-line track in Downtown, to be re-evaluated following the project completion. This project also includes sidewalk along E Chatham Street from S Mason Street to the cul-de-sac.
Pictured below: Center Street Rail Crossing
Pictured below: Chatham Street Rail Crossing
W. Williams Street Sidewalk
The project would complete gaps in sidewalk along NC 55, connecting from the sidewalk in front of Beaver Creek Commons shopping center, crossing the US 64 ramp, connecting across the bridge over US 64, and extending to the intersection at Vision Drive. These sidewalk gaps impede pedestrian travel along a major thoroughfare and are unlikely to ever be completed by development or other projects.
What is a General Obligation (GO) bond?
Bonds are a method used by towns and cities to finance major capital projects. They work similarly to your home mortgage, in that you finance a large purchase and pay it back over time. Because of the longer payback period (typically 20 years), the financial impact is not applied only to current residents, but also to citizens who move to Apex after the projects are complete and will also be potential users of the transportation infrastructure.
What are the benefits of paying for projects with bonds?
Since the Town of Apex has a very favorable bond credit rating, we can finance the repayment at a low interest rate. Bonds also enable the Town to complete major projects now, rather than wait until there is enough cash accumulated to pay for the project. Construction costs are currently increasing at a rate that exceeds the costs of borrowing, particularly in this area of the State. Building today can result in a significant costs savings and place the project in use much sooner. Bonds are sold competitively, resulting in the lowest possible financing cost at the date of the sale.
What is the impact on my property taxes?
An increase in property tax rate will be necessary to repay the bond debt. We anticipate an increase of 1.4 cents beginning July 2022, and another increase of 1.6 cents in July 2026. For the median home value in Apex of $327,800, this would result in about $98 more per year in property taxes if the full 3 cent increase was applied.
Why do residents vote on bonds?
GO Bonds are secured by a pledge of taxing power as voted by the citizens. Therefore, Apex residents will choose whether or not to authorize the 2021 Transportation Bond during this November’s general election.
What other types of financing can been used to pay for Transportation projects?
The town can apply for federal funds through various sources, primarily the Locally Administered Projects Program (LAPP). LAPP is a competitive funding program managed by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization that prioritizes projects in our region. Learn more about this program and other funding on this page.
What happens if the economy goes bad?
The referendum only provides the approval for the Town to issue up to a certain amount of bonds. However, the Town is not required to issue any debt. The Town Council must still approve each bond sale when the time comes to get started on each project. They may choose to delay, reduce the amount sold or not sell bonds at all depending on the financial climate at the time.
How long does the Town have to sell the bonds once they get the authorization?
The Town will have 7 years from the date of authorization to sell the bonds and may apply to the State for an extension of 3 additional years.
If approved, when would the Town start construction on the approved projects?
If the authorization is granted in November, the Town will have plans in place to begin construction on selected projects as early as spring/summer of 2022. Several of the projects are already in various stages of planning and design which will allow construction to begin fairly quickly, assuming the first bond sale is early in 2022.
Projects that are not yet in design phase typically take 3-5 years from the start of design until construction can begin. For example, projects funded in 2022 where design has not yet started should be ready to construct in 2025-2027. There are a lot of factors that can impact project schedule. Federal and state agencies, private companies that own railroads and utilities, and private citizens that may be impacted by and/or own property along a project corridor are all part of the design process.
How were these projects chosen?
The projects were chosen as a result of needs identified in part by the adopted Transportation Plan, which was created with significant public input. They will be prioritized based on the adopted Capital Improvement Plan, and the Town’s ability to adequately manage the construction of the projects. We also regularly hear feedback on the need for improved roadways, new sidewalks, and enhanced crosswalks from citizens through many channels, including the 2020 Citizen Satisfaction Survey and the Budget Prioritization Survey.
If the bond referendum is not approved, how will the Town fund these capital projects?
The Town would rely on reserves or current revenues and continue to compete for federal funding to complete these projects. This would limit the size of most projects, and significantly delay their design and construction. This could also increase the overall cost of projects as construction costs would likely continue to increase over time.
Will the tax increases disappear and revert to current levels after bond is paid for?
The incremental tax increases are being applied specifically to cover the cost of the bond projects. So in theory, after the 20-year debt service is paid off, and if all other economic factors stayed the same as they are today, then there would be no need for the continued 3 cents in tax rate. However, there is no way to predict or guarantee the tax rate that far out.
Why don’t developers pay for these projects?
The Town has limited legal authority to require the construction of transportation infrastructure with development projects. Generally, new development can only be required to complete construction of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure within their site and along their roadway frontage. This can result in gaps in sidewalks and other facilities. Right-of-way dedication for roadways on the Transportation Plan can typically be required, but construction of roadway improvements must be related to the traffic generated by a new development based on the technical analysis of traffic engineers and often tied to private development through zoning conditions approved by Town Council. The Town of Apex does not have authority to collect transportation impact fees.
How does Apex’s current tax rate compare to other municipalities in Wake County?
Apex’s 2020-2021 municipal tax rate remains one of the lowest in Wake County at .38. To see the 2020-21 rates for all Wake County municipalities, view this document.
How will the passage of the bond affect other Town services?
Other town services will be maintained and/or progress as normal. The purpose of the bond authorization is to provide funding specifically for transportation capital projects. The associated tax rate increase will cover the required debt service for the bonds, therefore not affecting the financial resources already planned for other town services.
How will the Town’s AAA bond rating be affected by this bond?
The Town’s Finance Director does not anticipate that the AAA bond rating will be impacted by the referendum.
How will the bond affect the Town’s ability to issue debt in the future?
The Town’s Finance Director has indicated that this bond should have no impact upon the Town’s ability to issue other debt in the future.