STEELE CREEK NEWS
Widening will have Tough Squeeze through Funding Funnel
2013) Transportation planners have begun to review and rank 280
potential transportation projects in the Charlotte area, including
the widening of Highway 160. About 30 of
these will survive to make the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).
The plan, expected to be completed in March 2014, will recommend
that these surviving projects be funded and completed within the
next 25 years.
The chart below
illustrates how projects advance through the ranking process. All
280 projects are evaluated in Tier 1. The top 70 or so projects will
enter the second, or Tier 2, evaluation. Those that make the top 30
or so of that ranking would be expected to be constructed by 2040
based on anticipated funding. (Click
HERE or on the image below to view a PDF version of the
period. The widening of Highway 160 was not among the projects
identified and thus in 2010 was not expected to be funded before
Once local planners identify the top
projects, the North Carolina Department of Transportation
evaluate these to see which should be added to the statewide
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) when it is updated,
likely in late 2014. Also called the seven year plan, the TIP
includes projects with a solid chance of being funded over the
next four years and a more fluid list of additional projects
projected to be funded over the subsequent three years.
the TIP already includes projects waiting to be started, so only
somewhere between zero a handful of the original 280 Charlotte-area
projects will be able to squeeze in.
The best case scenario is that the widening of Highway 160 will
slide onto the bottom of the list in the seven year TIP and
slowly move up in the ranking, possibly being started in about
eight years at the soonest.
The worst case scenario is that Highway 160 does not make the
2040 LRTP at all, and thus its widening would still not occur for
over 25 years.
Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO)
2035 Long Range Transportation Plan in 2010. This
plan identifies 64 projects whose cumulative cost does not
exceed expected revenues over a 25 year
|Metropolitan Planning Organization
Every large urban area nationwide has a
metropolitan planning organization, or MPO, which evaluates
transportation needs and recommends projects within its
area. For the last ten years, the Charlotte area has had an MPO called the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning
Organization, or MUMPO, which covered all of Mecklenburg
County and the western, mostly urban part of Union County.
Due to the enlargement of the Charlotte urbanized area, as
defined by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012, additional parts
of Union County, all of Iredell County
south of the Yadkin River, and eastern Lincoln County are
being added to the MPO. At its last meeting, MUMPO formally
adopted the new name Charlotte Regional Transportation
Planning Organization, or CRTPO. The name transition will
occur over the next few months. Local governments within the
MPO area are members of CRTPO. The delegate representing the
City of Charlotte is At-large City Council Member David
Howard. The delegate representing Mecklenburg County is
District 4 County Commissioner Dumont Clarke. The MPO also
has a permanent staff and a Technical Coordinating Committee
made up of staff from the various member jurisdictions and
other area agencies involved with transportation planning.
renamed the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization
(CRTPO) last month to reflect an enlargement of the planning area,
is in the process of updating the plan to extend it to 2040. Local
jurisdictions have identified 280 projects for evaluation. The list
actually includes two Highway 160 widening projects, one from the
South Carolina state line to Highway 49 and the other from Highway
49 to I-485.
The evaluation begins with Tier 1, which looks at congestion
(traffic volume divided by capacity), safety (crash frequency and
severity), and accessibility to employment (based on current data,
not projections). Approximately 70 projects are expected to move to
Tier 2. The two Highway 160 projects have a good chance of making
this cutoff due to increased growth and congestion and its passing
through the Westinghouse Boulevard industrial corridor.
The Tier 2 evaluation
is more subjective. Factors examined include environmental justice
impacts, natural resource impacts, historic resource impacts,
community resource impacts, system connectivity, and benefit cost
ratio, which looks at travel time saved divided by the cost. The top
projects from the Tier 2 evaluation will be included in the 2040
The number of
projects included will be based on the expected available revenues
through 2040 and the projected costs of the projects. They will be
grouped into five-year periods based on their total ranking scores
and expected funding for each period. The number of projects in the
LRTP could be as low as 30, which is less than half the number in
the 2035 plan and reflects expected lower future revenues for
The projects that
CRTPO has included in its 2040 LRTP will then be evaluated by NCDOT
along with projects submitted by all the other MPOs in North
Carolina. The criteria used by CRTPO are designed to parallel those
used by NCDOT, so the state rankings should be close to those in the
2040 plan, but there may be differences.
|The current Transportation Improvement Plan
(TIP) includes one project in Steele Creek, which is the
construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Beam
Road and Shopton Road. Construction should begin within the
The state plan is
Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which is a
seven-year plan. Projects that make the cut are identified for
construction either during the first four years and are given
solid, secure funding or during the subsequent three years and
are subject to more fluid funding. The US Department of
Transportation only requires a plan covering four years.
Since the TIP already
includes projects awaiting construction, only a few new ones are
added during each reevaluation. There may be no new projects added
from the Charlotte region, or there may be only a few.
Therefore, the likelihood of either of the Highway 160 projects
making the TIP is a longshot. The best hope is that the Highway 160
projects can be ranked high, much higher than in the last ranking,
and move up during subsequent updates.
Some projects funded
may be only partial projects, such as right-of-way acquisition, with
the construction funding awaiting later years. Additionally, the TIP
is reevaluated every few years, so the projects near the bottom of
the list could be bumped down by other projects that pop up in the
rankings. Actual funding provided for highway projects may be lower
than the amount projected, causing further delays in projects.
CRTPO adopted the
ranking criteria for the 2040 LRTP at its March meeting, and
planners are now reviewing the 280 projects to develop the rankings.
The draft 2040 LRTP should be available for public comment in
September or October 2013. Approval of the final 2040 LRTP by CRTPO
is due by March 2014, and the state is likely to update its TIP
later in 2014.
residents need to monitor the development of the draft 2040 LRTP and
be prepared to provide comments later this fall.
|The following was presented at the MUMPO/CRTPO
meeting on March 20, 2013:
The Steele Creek Residents
Association represents the Steele Creek community in the
southwest corner of Mecklenburg County. We’re an area that is
not necessarily neglected but we do feel overlooked from time to
We had our annual meeting three weeks ago, and had over 200
people attend. Our two topics this year were the new outlet mall
and other retail development, and the future of North Carolina
Highway 160, also known as Steele Creek Road.
Bob Cook was a featured speaker and told us about the MPO’s
process for evaluating and ranking projects. Charlotte City
Council Member David Howard and Mecklenburg County Commissioner
Dumont Clark also attended. We appreciate all of you joining us
and helping us understand the ranking process for highway
The widening of Highway 160 is one of the two greatest needs in
Steele Creek right now, the other being improvements to Olympic
Traffic congestion on Highway 160 is getting worse and worse,
especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. Steele Creek
more than doubled in population between the 2000 and 2010
censuses. Residential development slowed as it had everywhere
late in the decade, but it is beginning to pick up again. New
retail development, such as the outlet mall at I-485 and the
expansion of RiverGate Shopping Center will only contribute to
the traffic. Highway 160 crosses through the Westinghouse
Boulevard industrial corridor, which is one of the largest
employment centers in North Carolina. South Carolina recently
announced plans to widen Highway 160 from Tega Cay to the state
line, which will funnel traffic from South Carolina up to I-485
and the new outlet mall into the two lanes of Highway 160 in
Long ago Highway 160 was a quiet two-lane road that passed
through the rural farming area of Steele Creek. That no longer
is the case. It is now a congested urban bottleneck.
At our meeting last month, Steele Creek residents unanimously
passed the following resolution:
The citizens of Steele Creek respectfully request that
MUMPO raise the priority of widening Highway 160 from I-485 to
the South Carolina state line for the safety of our residents
due to increased traffic from new retail and residential
developments and from South Carolina.
We realize that there is a process for ranking projects, and
a resolution from a community group probably isn’t high on the
list of factors considered, but we do want to make sure that you
are aware of our need and our concern. Please keep Highway 160
in mind as you develop the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.
Thank you for your time.
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