North Charlotte’s growing pains were apparent at a community meeting on Dec. 12 at Oehler’s Mallard Creek BBQ Barn, where city and state transportation and planning officials were on hand to answer residents’ questions about roadwork and other development in and around Prosperity Church Road and the final leg of Interstate 485.
One hundred or so residents and business owners said they were concerned about traffic congestion and the redevelopment of local roads and wanted a status update on the completion of the interstate construction that has created major disruptions in the area.
Scott Cole, division traffic engineer chief at N.C. Department of Transportation, said the city and state understand the frustration experienced by residents, but asked them to remain patient as projects move into high gear.
The final 5.7-mile section of I-485 is 70 percent complete, according to Nat Hunter, the state’s engineer in charge of the I-485 project, with an anticipated completion date of December 2014.
Learning from past experience with traffic congestion, officials said, the project is being developed in a “split diamond interchange” configuration with two two-lane roads separated by a divider, two frontage streets, and feeders connecting to six roundabouts. Fourteen of the 20 bridges crossing over the highway have been completed, with the most recent at Mallard Creek Road open for business Dec. 12.
Some residents complained that the new road was dangerous and needed traffic lights to allow for people to turn.
Many of the arteries leading from the highway are also a work in progress and will require several more years of construction. Since the closure of Prosperity Church Road in October, traffic is currently funneled onto Loganville, causing long backups, particularly at traffic lights. Matt Magnasco with Charlotte’s Department of Transportation outlined the five phases of roadwork designed to ease current traffic congestion for the area, known as the Prosperity Village projects, which are being funded through city bonds and some federal money.
These include two extensions west of what is now called Loganville Road with an anticipated completion of the first phase reaching Ridge Road by the end of next year. The city has not yet acquired the land for phase two of this project, which involves relocating eight mobile homes. Phase three involves realigning Prosperity Church Road and Johnston-Oehler/DeArmon Roads to connect with I-485. Phase four involves an extension of Prosperity Ridge Road to the east, which will require the closure of Ridge Road for two weeks this summer. The last leg is the Johnston-Oehler Road Farm-to-Market project, which is expected to take the longest to construct. It will connect Johnston-Oehler to Mallard Creek and Prosperity Ridge Roads.
The city estimates the combined work will run $28,769,000 and will take a year and half to complete.
Skeptical residents questioned whether the proposed roads and traffic lights wouldn’t create more back-ups. Others didn’t buy the city timelines, since land for some projects hadn’t been purchased yet. One landowner wanted assurances that his property wouldn’t be condemned for road use. Business owners at the meeting said their businesses were suffering since customers couldn’t find them. They asked the city planners why they couldn’t at least post directional signs on roadways. One frustrated citizen wondered why Eastfield Road hadn’t been discussed, saying it is a “disaster.”
Finally, petitioners asked the city to rename Loganville to Prosperity Church Road, the original name for the street for more than 100 years. It’s an issue which the city said it would consider.
Updates for two rezoning matters were provided at the meeting.
A proposed retail development at the corner of Eastfield and Prosperity Church roads was opposed at a city public hearing Oct. 21 based on the density of the project. The owner of the 5.94-acre parcel is carrying the application forward with a new site plan.
Also, Halvorsen Development Corp. is petitioning for the rezoning of 38.5 acres on the west side of Prosperity Church Road across from Ridge Road to develop a multifamily community. A public hearing in that matter is scheduled for Feb. 17.