Between the problems with the Independence Boulevard contractor and a very expensive utility relocation needed at the Idlewild/Rama/Monroe intersection, our stretch of Monroe Road is literally at a crossroads.
MoRA has been talking with NCDOT and CDOT (the State and City departments of transportation) to get some answers. Thanks to both departments’ quick responses to our inquiries, this is what we know. More importantly, by opening conversations we hope to be able to update you as things evolve on these two projects as well as the LYNX Silver Line planning.
- NCDOT hopes to hire a new contractor for the Independence Blvd project by late March.
- CDOT will hire a project team for the Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Rd intersection in the next few months that will include community meetings for public input. The City part of the project funding will be in a 2016 bond package; the state will also commit funds to the project.
- CATS and other agencies will hold a community meeting on the Silver Line in our area in early April. Stay tuned for details.
Independence Boulevard Work Stoppage
Because of the heavy news coverage about the Independence Blvd contractor walking off the job, many of you expressed concerns about the impact on that project. By the time you read this, the news media may be advancing the story but this is what we know. NCDOT hired Lane Construction on an interim contract and invoked the project’s performance bond. That requires the bonding agency to present a plan to continue work that is deemed satisfactory by NCDOT. That plan will mean that Lane or another company will get the contract and work will resume. NCDOT hopes that can happen by the end of March. We will let you know what we hear. Yes, this will cause a delay. But no, it will not lead to cost overruns – that is why you have performance bonds.
Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Rd Intersection
This project is considerably more challenging. However, its challenges offer some long-term opportunities that could pay off for Monroe Road by adding sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic capacity. Explaining all this takes some patience because of the players involved; please bear with us. The months ahead will allow all of you to speak up on the subject, so we urge you to stay tuned for updates.
The first thing you need to know is that there is a major private utility facility at that corner. And the facility is in exactly the wrong place to do what is needed at that intersection. Relocating it includes a long and tedious environmental study, and significant planning, engineering and implementation steps. Moving it is going to cost millions. To get it done correctly, the City has agreed to help the State of North Carolina (NOTE: Monroe Rd is a state-maintained road, NOT a city road). Funding that work – the utility relocation and the enhanced road work — will begin with awarding a planning/design contract. That contract will have a robust public input phase – which means you will get to voice your concerns and wishes for the larger intersection. The construction phase will be included in a November 2016 City bond package.
The fact that area stakeholders will be asked what they want means you will have a say. And if you support what comes out of that design work, you can vote for it. In the meantime, development at the two corners will trigger construction of some turn lanes. Rest assured, MoRA will let you know when the planning team is hired and they begin their work so you can attend any community meetings as well as avail yourselves of any other community input tools they may put in place. If there is a rezoning on the undeveloped corner, MoRA will make sure you are informed as those plans are filed as well. This is a classic example of making lemonade out of a bunch of lemons.
The Silver Line
In the meantime, the MoRA board continues to stay in touch with CATS on its Silver Line (transit from Matthews to Uptown) visioning. To that end, CATS will be announcing a community meeting in early April that will allow you to get an update and to give your input. What stakeholders from our part of Monroe Rd think is of vital importance to CATS. The April event will include an open house so you can get updates on other work in the area.
-As of 3-4-2016
Contact: Kathy Hill, MoRA Chair, at email@example.com or 704-231-2228
MoRA is an organized group of resident volunteers and area stakeholders intent on proactively responding to the needs expressed by our community. The MoRA area is the stretch of Monroe Road between Sharon-Amity and Sardis Road North, and the neighborhoods and businesses who depend upon it.