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Cornelius News

Does W. Catawba Phase Two widening mean more ridiculousness?


By Dave Vieser.┬áJust when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like it did last night. When West Catawba Avenue and Sam Furr Road are widened in the future, motorists will not be allowed to turn left onto Sam Furr Road from Catawba Avenue to reach Birkdale and I-77. Instead, they will be required to turn right and proceed for an undetermined distance west toward Blythe Landing, then make a U-turn and proceed east.

The bad news was delivered by Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant last night at the Town Board meeting. He said that the DOT was not willing to budge when it comes to making this busy intersection a “superstreet” intersection. The same applies to Nantz Road, where left turns onto Catawba Avenue from Nantz Road will not be allowed.

Earlier this year town officials said allowing left turns from Catawba to Sam Furr was “non-negotiable.” Sam Furr Road is apparently more super than West Catawba, and it’s not gonna happen, town officials said privately.

Two other intersections were deemed non-negotiable: Jetton and Westmoreland.

“We did get an olive branch of sorts from the DOT, a hybrid plan, when it comes to the Westmoreland Road and Jetton Road intersections,” Grant said of the 2.35 mile widening of West Catawba known as Phase II. “They are willing to allow Jetton Road to remain a traditional intersection permanently, and the same at Westmoreland Road, at least until an Exit 27 is opened on I-77.”Reaction from the commissioners to the DOT options ranged from reluctant consideration to downright rejection. “This is a killer,” said Commissioner Jim Duke. “Bad news for us.”

“Frankly I like the way Phase One looks,” said Woody Washam, “but I believe we need to retain a dialogue with the state on this project lest they take their pot of money and go elsewhere. This hybrid design may be as good as it will get.”Picking up on Washam’s comments, Mayor Chuck Travis asked Grant to suggest to the DOT that they widen Catawba Avenue from Jetton to Westmoreland Roads in the same manner done on Phase One from I-77 to Jetton Road, with a number of left turn cutouts. “The stretch from Jetton to Westmoreland is where we have most local businesses, and where the left turn prohibitions would be especially difficult to absorb,” he said.

A superstreet concept for Catawba between Westmoreland and Sam Furr seemed more palatable to the mayor. Under current DOT schedules, construction is not expected to begin before late 2018. Still, key decisions need to be made soon, and the state is pushing for feedback from the town now in preparation for a public information meeting at Town Hall this summer.

At the suggestion of Town Attorney Bill Brown, a transcript of the commissioner’s comments will be sent to the DOT so they can get a “flavor” of their reaction.