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Traffic Woes Highlighted at Annual Meeting

(March 13, 2015) Late Thursday afternoon an accident on Highway 49 on the South Carolina side of the Buster Boyd Bridge caused significant traffic backups on all the major roads in Lower Steele Creek. Motorists experienced long delays while waiting in bumper to bumper traffic. The backup was the major topic of conversation among folks who had planned to arrive early at the Steele Creek Residents Association meeting to set up or attend the Meet & Mingle but were caught up in the delay. The backups resulted in a late-arriving crowd, but they also demonstrated to transportation planners and decision makers that there is a lot of traffic in Steele Creek.

Highway 160During the meeting, many attendees expressed concerns about traffic woes on Steele Creek Road while others nodded in agreement. A major focus was on the intersection of Steele Creek Road and Hamilton Road. This used to be an intersection of a two-lane road with another two-lane road. Because there were no left turn lanes, traffic backed up behind cars waiting to turn left, especially when it was heavy during rush hours.

Last year the developers of RiverGate added a right turn lane on southbound Steele Creek Road at the request of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. While this was intended to improve the intersection, it has actually made it more hazardous. Impatient motorists, unwilling to wait behind cars stopped to turn left, are now using the new lane to pass illegally on the right. But since cars going straight are supposed to use the left lane, those that have waited as they should are surprised by the cars illegally passing and suddenly merging into their lane. As one transportation planner said, they "didn't anticipate" that this would happen.

CRTPOBut relief is in the works. Neil Burke, Senior Principal Planner with the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) discussed the recently released Draft State Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which lists highway projects expected to be constructed between 2016 and 2025. (See CRTPO Presentation. Also see Highway 160 Projects to be Funded by 2025.)  

2015 Annual Meeting

The TIP calls for widening the Steele Creek Road/Hamilton Road intersection for additional capacity consistent with the future Steele Creek Road cross section. Widening Steele Creek Road from South Tryon Street to the South Carolina line is not in the TIP, but it would include four lanes with sidewalks and a median, so the intersection improvements would be consistent with that.

The Steele Creek Road/Hamilton Road intersection project is slated for right-of-way acquisition in 2019 and construction in 2021. Since this begins within the first four years of the TIP period, funding is considered more secure. Total cost is approximately $1.6M

Meanwhile, Lennar Homes, which is planning a new residential development at Hamilton Road and Smith Road, is being required to add left turn lanes to all four sides of the Steele Creek Road/Hamilton Road intersection. This must be completed before they will be allowed to sell homes for occupancy. It may take up to a year and a half for them to complete the left turn lanes, but they have a major incentive to complete them as soon as possible.

Another project in the TIP is the widening of Steele Creek Road from Shopton Road West to South Tryon Street. This project is scheduled for right-of way acquisition in 2022 and construction in 2024 and 2025. The project includes a four lane road, sidewalks on both sides, bike lanes, and a grassy median. Total cost is approximately $38M. Since this project is scheduled to begin more than four years into the TIP period, it is subject to reevaluation and reprioritization in the next TIP.

Attendees also expressed support for this widening as soon as possible. Not only does current traffic exceed capacity, but continuing new residential and commercial development will only make it worse.


Alberto Gonzalez, Senior Principal Planner with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department gave a presentation on Charlotte's Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program (CNIP). This program has targeted five neighborhoods across the city where strategic investments in infrastructure will address a broad array of community needs. One of these is the Whitehall/Ayrsley area of Steele Creek. The designated area also includes Berewick and neighborhoods along Brown-Grier Road, Sandy Porter Road, and Steele Creek Road. See CNIP Presentation. Also see Charlotte Plans $30M Capital Expenditures in Whitehall-Ayrsley Area.

WHitehall/AyrsleyThe city expects to spend $30M over several years on capital improvements in the designated Whitehall/Ayrsley area, which will be financed through Neighborhood Improvement Bonds.

Staff held the first public meeting on March 10 to begin the process of identifying projects that the community believes are most needed. The project selection and prioritization process will continue at a the next meeting scheduled for April 23 at 6:30 at Kennedy Middle School.

Also at the April meeting, staff will present plans for a sidewalk project along Brown-Grier Road and Gallant Lane leading to Kennedy Middle School.

Charlotte plans a significant capital investment in northern Steele Creek. They are requesting input on projects that the community believes are needed, but also projects that complement each other to improve the connectivity and livability of the entire target area. This process provides YOU with an opportunity to have input in the spending of $30M in tax dollars. Please take advantage of the April 23 meeting and other opportunities to provide your input.

Berewick Town Center

Peter Pappas of Pappas Properties, the developer of Berewick, gave an update on what is coming at Berewick.

He said that most infrastructure is in place, including about 80% of the trails. He said that construction on the extension of Berewick Commons Parkway to Dixie River Road would begin later this spring. Their concentration now is on the Town Center, where dirt is now moving.

The Town Center will follow the Scottish theme and feature a green and other open space. The first phase will feature a Harris Teeter, which should open in summer 2016. They are in negotiations with five restaurants, which include a variety of styles, from fast food to sit down. Plans include a Walgreens, neighborhood shops, and a hotel, as well as office and residential.

Berewick contains 1,200 single-family homes and 200 townhomes, with more residential neighborhoods now under construction.

Representatives of community organizations and local government agencies and facilities set up tables with displays and information. This provided a great opportunity for attendees to interact with each other and learn more about their community.

View the Meet & Mingle PowerPoint Loop Presentation.

To comment on this story, please visit the Steele Creek Forum.

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