STEELE CREEK NEWS
Steele Creek Road Widening on Long Range Road Plans
(February 23, 2008)
Area transportation planners have identified future road needs, and
two major projects are in Steele Creek. Unfortunately, neither
project is on the immediate horizon.
The widening of
Steele Creek Road (Highway 160) from I-485 to the South Carolina
line is on the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization
2030 Long Range Transportation Plan, but it's not
expected to be completed before 2030. It's among the 2030 Horizon
Year Roadway Projects in the plan. According to Bob Cook,
Transportation Planner with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning
Department, this means that the need has been identified and funding
is "expected" to be available to complete the project by 2030.
Widening of the road
from I-485 south to S Tryon Street (Hwy 49) is higher on the
priority list, and is more likely to be completed earlier in the
2020's. Widening of the section from S Tryon Street to the South
Carolina line is lower in priority and would be completed later.
costs are $27.9 million for the northern section and $12.2 million
for the southern section. Both sections include widening to four
lanes with a median and bike lanes.
Also in the 2030 Long
Range Plan is the proposed Garden Parkway, which will run south of
Gastonia and connect I-85 west of Gastonia to I-485 in
Mecklenburg County. It is being planned as a toll road by the
North Carolina Turnpike Authority.
The eastern end of
the Garden Parkway will connect to I-485 in Upper Steele Creek at
the interchange that was constructed for West Boulevard. Charlotte
Douglas Airport currently is realigning West boulevard to connect to
this interchange. See the airport's
Runway and Road Relocation Update web site and
Wallace Neel Road to be
Closed until Summer 2008. The
interchange will be redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate the garden
Parkway, which will be a divided, limited access highway.
According to Randi
Gates of the
Gaston Urban Area MPO, planners are still studying
several potential corridors for the parkway. The Environmental
Impact Statement should be released next year and the route should
be decided soon after that. The Record of Decision (the official
decision on the route) should be released in 2010.
The Garden Parkway
will be constructed in three phases. The first phase will connect
I-485 to New Hope Road in Gaston County and is expected to be open
in 2015. This section is needed to give Gastonia commuters an
additional way to cross the Catawba River and relieve the congestion
on Wilkinson Boulevard and I-85.
The second phase will
connect New Hope Road to US Highway 321 south of Gastonia. The third
phase will connect US Highway 321 to I-85 west of Gastonia. Steele
Creek residents would like to see this highway completed to have
quick and easy route towards western North Carolina, western South
Carolina, and Atlanta, but Ms. Gates was not able to offer a
prediction on when the last two phases would be built.
The Garden Parkway is
among the 2020 Horizon Year Roadway Projects in the MUMPO 2030 Long
Range Transportation Plan.
MUMPO is responsible
for federally mandated transportation planning activities within
Mecklenburg County and the urban portion of Union County. Among its
duties is to prepare long range transportation plans. MUMPO plans to
provide an update to the current long range transportation plan in
2009. This update will describe what roads, transit, and bicycle and
pedestrian facilities will be built up to the year 2035.
The updated plan
could show revised priorities for roadway and other projects, and
the public has an opportunity to influence those priorities. MUMPO
is encouraging meaningful citizen participation in the update. For
more infomation, visit the
MUMPO web site.