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Will the Matthews superstreet make Monroe Road even more dangerous?

The Proposed Superstreet

If you have driven through Matthews recently, you have almost certainly seen signs against the proposed “superstreet.” Monroe Road extends past the MoRA area into downtown Matthews, the lanes cut in half, and the resulting John Street connects to 485. It is a guarantee you have been slowed down due to traffic.

There are plans to expand John Street into a superstreet, a setup that looks very similar to a highway. The group Preserve Matthews is concerned about the proposed changes, which they believe will needlessly increase traffic while ruining the small town feel of historic, downtown Matthews. If you haven’t been to downtown Matthews recently, you should check it out. You can walk between a bunch of great food destinations, tap rooms, bottle shops, and coffee roasters. They, of course, have a huge farmers market and there are frequently a bunch of festivals. I’m not sure what it will look like with a superstreet, but it may end up broken up like businesses on Independence.

Problems for Monroe Road

What’s most worrisome for MoRA residents is the potential increase in traffic brought about by the superstreet. NCDOT reportedly expects the superstreet to handle nearly 55,000 cars per day. Monroe Road already supports 40,000 vehicles per day, and increasing traffic up to 35% would cripple this residential connector. The city appears to think of Monroe Road as a mini Independence Boulevard that will accommodate overflow and passthrough traffic.

As a resident that uses Monroe Road every day I can already see the problems added traffic would create. Some sections have already proven dangerous. In just the last few months the street has seen a fatal car crash, both a pedestrian and cyclist killed by cars, and countless additional preventable accidents. This isn’t new. There were 393 total accidents along Monroe Road, Sardis Road North, Village Lake Drive, and North Sharon Amity in 2016. This resulted in 264 injuries and three deaths just on these few miles of Charlotte roads.

 

Monroe Road doesn’t need more traffic. It needs more traffic lights, better pedestrian crossings, and better turning lanes. The road should serve the community, not those passing through.

What You Can Do

The superstreet looks like the first step in turning the residential Monroe Road into a high-traffic throughway. Independence is only a mile away, and is clearly the best and fastest way to commute up and down the corridor. Why should surrounding streets serve the exact same purpose? If there’s traffic on Independence, cars will pour over to Monroe. The current traffic problems will only get worse, making it even more dangerous for residents to head to the store.

What can you do? Attend this public meeting on the John Street widening organized by Preserve Matthews. The more support they have, the better. Next, get your neighborhood in contact with MoRA as we look at ways to improve traffic, safety, and access along the corridor. Please fill out the following neighborhood survey if you want to help shape goals for Monroe Road.

Advisor Mary Hopper helps navigate MoRA’s success

MoRA advocates often hear from people impressed by what we’ve accomplished in such a short time, and who are excited about the community that is being created.

The credit, of course, belongs to many. But here’s where much of the credit rightfully goes:  Mary Cagle Hopper, a semi-retired PR consultant and former planning commissioner whose vast background has been to MoRA’s great benefit because of her involvement during our formative months.

Mary is smart and funny and sharp-witted and her background is crazy impressive:

A former Queens College professor with her PhD in Romance Languages, Mary turned her business focus over to PR, where her skills earned six national awards and numerous local awards.  She was a founding member of Women Business Executives, a past president of Dilworth Community Association, and the executive director of University City Partners for five years. She was in Class 2 of Leadership Charlotte back in its founding year, now approaching its 39thclass.

Mary advised MoRA’s Land Use committee as it navigated the rezoning proposal for the development approved for Idlewild and Monroe Roads.  Her expertise comes from many years working on a number of the City’s most challenging rezonings and transportation issues in Dilworth, Midtown, South End, Freedom Drive, SouthPark.  She was on the Planning Commission for eight years, two as its chair.  Over the years, she found that her language skills have enabled her to translate arcane jargon into concepts that people could understand and embrace to improve their neighborhoods.

But before, during and after her extensive career has been Mary’s passion and activism for women’s rights.  She worked hard in the ‘70’s to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed.  (“I learned that facts and logic lose to fear and hyperbole every time.”) With the recent election results, she wonders, “Did we not often enough or well enough tell the story of what it was like for women before women’s rights?”

So, as Dr. Mary Hopper turns her attention once again to women’s rights and supporting women’s voices in local elections, MoRA is deeply grateful to have been the beneficiary of her great generosity of time over these last two years. From our branding efforts to our communication platforms to our strategic planning, Mary’s influence is woven throughout our organization.  Our MoRA community has been enriched, and we thank Mary for her passion and her intellect, for her actions and her advocacy to the profound benefit of our community and the city of Charlotte.

When to expect a new grocer and shopping on Monroe and Idlewild

City Council recently approved a major development on Monroe Road and Idlewild Road, guaranteed to change the face of southeast Charlotte. Rezoning is complete, so when will the new stores open?   Here’s what we know – and a little bit about the influence that MoRA exercised in shaping the project.

We talked with Selwyn Property Group partner Jensie Teague. He graciously worked with MoRA in implementing recommendations for the project.  Like us, he’s eager to see a clean-up of the site so that construction can begin. However, it may be 4-6 months after the engineering and permitting process.  Teague anticipates a late 2018 opening for the grocer, with the retail building under construction at the same time. The second structure has been designed to allow for outdoor seating and gathering spots, which should entice the neighborhood friendly tenants MoRA residents want.

Teague was complimentary about working with us, thanking “MoRA for both its cooperative spirit and the good advice it offered during the rezoning process.  Selwyn Property Group looks forward to continuing to work with MoRA as we build out this project.” MoRA has offered to identify and help recruit potential tenants, as well as keep the community updated as new tenants sign and open.

MoRA’s Land Use committee asked Teague reposition the store so that it was closer to the street, mimicking the “zero lot lines” that you see at Meridian Place.  That and the addition of trees and landscaping means you don’t see parked cars, making the corner more urban-looking and inviting.

Our volunteer group focused on bike and pedestrian access. We believe safety and access is an important trend that will make the MoRA area more appealing. Upcoming intersection plans should complement and flow with the Selwyn property, providing safe shopping for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

City Council and Zoning Committee members complimented MoRA and the petitioner for how well they worked together.  MoRA also appreciates the assistance of City staff, as well as the guidance of MoRA Advisor Mary Hopper, during this very complex rezoning.  The development will become part of the Independence Trail bike and pedestrian path.  The 12-foot multiuse path along the Monroe and Idlewild frontage will actually be the first section built for the long Independence Trail.  The City planning staff was intent on enhancing connections within the site.  Bike racks and signage will remind motorists to look out for pedestrians and cyclists.  Improvements in building materials and decorative lighting, also requested by MoRA, will be added as the project builds out.

Stay tuned as this important corner takes shape. We will keep you informed with any news about this exciting new shopping, and of course, any other changes along our corridor.

Sculpture donations top $5,000 thanks to Wanda Smith & Associates Realtors

The Monroe Road Advocates was started to improve the Monroe Road corridor. One of our main goals was to give residents a better sense of neighborhood, and give them a reason to be proud of their community.

We began working over a year ago on an ambitious public art project that could redefine the corridor and place the neighborhood. Through public donations, private funding, and city grants, we have put together over $135,000 of the $150,000 needed for the project. We have asked the community for help with the last $20,800 and have received 47 donations!

Wanda Smith & Associates Realtors’ generous contribution pushed us over the $5,000 mark! We are a quarter of the way to our $20,800 goal. But we need YOU to help get us all the way there. Donations of any amount are appreciated. Thanks to the community for believing in this southeast Charlotte neighborhood and the future of our area.

Please donate here, or sign up to make the decorative tiles that will adorn this future landmark. Every donation and volunteer hour gets us one step closer a better, closer neighborhood.