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City Planners Look at Possible Steele Creek Road Relocation

(February 1, 2002) Two major changes that are coming to the Steele Creek area will affect the future alignment of Steele Creek Road north of the new I-485 and its continuation as Dixie Road and Wallace Neel Road north of West Boulevard.

The first change is the expansion of Charlotte-Douglas Airport to the west and south. Due to new runway construction and expansion, West Boulevard will be realigned south to the current location of Byrum Drive and will continue west across I-485 at the interchange currently being built for Garrison Road. Dixie Road and Wallace Neal Road north of West Boulevard will be closed for construction of a new runway, and the airport is obligated to provide an replacement route for this thoroughfare. Current plans are to build a road west of I-485 running north from the West Boulevard extension to Walkers Ferry Road.

The second change is the new mixed-use development planned by Pappas Properties, which expects to build a new road from the Steele Creek Road/Shopton Road West intersection north through the middle of the new development connecting with Dixie River Road.

Transportation planners with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission and the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization are looking at the potential alignments of these two projects as well as a potential connection between them. The favored connector route would continue from the end of the Pappas Properties road along Dixie River Road north to its connection to the relocated thoroughfare west of the airport. This essentially would change Dixie River Road from a narrow rural road to a four lane divided parkway with a planted median strip that would take advantage of the local topography.

An early proposed thoroughfare route closer to I-485 is not favored because it passes through the planned new Upper Steele Creek District Park.

Garrison Road also would be widened and extended south to connect to Dixie River Road. Another planned change is to realign Dixie River Road south of the proposed new Upper Steele Creek District Park southward to run from where it crosses I-485 to the center of the Pappas Development.

Another road construction project being promoted by Gaston County officials is a new alignment of U. S. Highway 74, which currently follows Wilkinson Boulevard into Charlotte. Gaston County officials would like to have a new southern bypass through the county that would cross the Catawba River into Mecklenburg County on a new bridge south of Belmont. They propose a new highway in Mecklenburg County between this bridge and I-485 at the new Garrison Road/West Boulevard interchange. U. S. Highway 74 would be routed to follow I-485 around South Charlotte to Independence Boulevard rather than going through central Charlotte. General opinion is that this new connector could only be built as a toll road, which the North Carolina legislature is considering as method for hastening highway construction. Although prospects for the Gaston County connector are tenuous, planners are taking it into account as they look at other road changes in the area. 

Primary funding of the replacement road for Dixie Road and Wallace Neel Road north of West Boulevard will come from airport funds. Funding for the new roads through the Pappas Development will come from the developers. As planners explained at a meeting at Mount Olive Presbyterian Church on January 31, funding for the remaining road improvements and new construction has not been identified. Nor has a schedule been determined.

For more information, contact Danny Rogers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission at 704-336-8643 or by e-mail at drogers@ci.charlotte.nc.us.