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Both lanes of W. Catawba are open

featured_onelaneroadAug. 25. UPDATE NOON TUESDAY. Town officials said they once again had “no idea” road construction crews at the new Dunkin’ Donuts would be back at it again Monday on West Catawba opposite Griffin Bros. Tire & Auto. West Catawba was down to one lane of traffic, with cars backed up as far as Sam Furr Road. At one point, flagmen allowed two lanes of traffic in the same direction, resulting in chaos and, yes, yelling and whistle blowing.

The east-bound lane was closed until 4 pm Monday. The NCDOT said the lane will be closed again Tuesday, from 9 am to noon. It was in fact open by 1 pm.

West Catawba amounts to Cornelius’ main business street, in light of the number of merchants, restaurants and banks that line the thoroughfare. Monday was also the first day of school.

Town officials said the NCDOT apparently allowed the construction company to undertake paving without notifying the town.

An NCDOT spokesperson said this at 12:18 pm Monday: “In cases where the construction is being completed by a private developer, it is routinely the developer’s responsibility to notify parties of any potential construction impacts. NCDOT met with the developer last week and emphasized the importance of keeping traffic flowing in that area. We have an NCDOT staffer checking out the site this afternoon. With that being said, we are currently in contact with the town to see how we can improve communication among developers, the town and NCDOT in the future.”

It all began Saturday

The mess began to unfold Saturday morning when a new right-turn lane was being paved for the Dunkin Donuts. Then, too, the town was not notified and traffic came to a virtual standstill in each direction. Although the addition of a turning lane had been a requirement for the Dunkin’ Donuts rezoning that was approved by the Town several months ago, there was no warning to the public about the weekend construction.

Jessica Shettleroe Bern said it took her 25 minutes to travel a half mile on Saturday. At 3:30 pm Monday, Patricia Wimmer Richardson said it took her 45 minutes to travel from Westmoreland to Jetton.

Here’s our communication with Town Manager Anthony Roberts on Saturday:

Cornelius Today: Hi guys do you know what’s happening? We should put up a note on www.corneliustoday.com.  Traffic is backed up pretty far and cars are making U-eez.

Roberts: I just heard it was Dunkin’ Donuts.  Let me check with PD.

Roberts: Yep.

Cornelius Today: So, this is a private paving job, and traffic is literally backed up from dunkin donuts to Ladd McCall?  And I’m guessing you guys were not kept in the loop?

Roberts: You got it.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ side of the story
We reached out to the Global Media Relations Department at the $9.8 billion company (2014 franchise revenues) to find out when they would be finished with construction. The five-man PR team has not responded.
Real life meets traffic nonsense
Sadly, traffic snafus like this affect real people in real life. On the Exit 28 Ridiculousness page,
Carmen Canady posted the following under a Cornelius Today news story: “All we are trying to do is get to Publix to pick up our son’s bday cake. Would turn around but can’t disappoint an 8 year old!!!! Ugh!”
Updated NCDOT information 4 pm Monday 
“The developer just informed us that they should be finished with the work by noon tomorrow. That means they’ll be working 9 a.m. to noon, and then wrapping up. I have communicated this information to the town through one of their communications specialists.”
What does the town planner say?

Wayne Herron, the town’s Planning Director, provided this explanation to town officials: “On an NCDOT Road, NCDOT issues a driveway permit that details expectations and they are expected to notify NCDOT and the Town prior to making improvements. In this case, we (the Town) did not get notified. NCDOT indicates they are having an inspector visit the site today to go over the schedule talk about traffic issues. We have advised NCDOT that the Town is a great resource to utilize to get the word out an we want to be a part of making these projects work in a smooth manner and hopefully in non-peak travel times.”

Sense of humor

The Cornelius Police Department said this: “As excited as our officers are about a new doughnut place in town, we are in the law enforcement business and not the road construction business. We are aware of backups along Catawba Avenue between Jetton Road and Westmoreland and have heard it will stop at 4:00pm today, then resume Tuesday, 8/25 from 9:00AM – 4:00PM. Allow extra travel time if you are driving in that area of Cornelius or plan an alternate route.”