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Jetton Road at Old Jetton has a bad left-hand punch

Jetton Road at Old Jetton has a bad left-hand punch

Not going to happen? Conceptual of Jetton with bike lanes

By Dave Yochum. Jetton Road—recently rebuilt from the ground up and restriped—may be in for some changes. The thoroughfare is popular with recreational cyclists and joggers, but there’s ongoing discussion on how to make it safe.

Jetton and Old Jetton

Citizen input: Robbie Lowrance and Bob Watson propose this plan. Click to enlarge

Speaking at a Cornelius Town Board meeting in June, residents Bob Watson and Robbie Lowrance said the intersection of Old Jetton and Jetton Road, a block from West Catawba, is the most dangerous in Cornelius.

“It is the worst intersection in Cornelius. There are too many accidents, and someone is going to get seriously injured,” said Bob Watson, a resident of The Peninsula.

According to Cornelius Police Department, there have been 18 accidents at that intersection since June of 2013, making it one of the most dangerous intersections in town.

The intersection is not for beginners. There are four lanes of traffic in a 45 mph zone, a curve with shortened sight lines and cars from each direction queuing up for left-hand turns. During one week in early June there was one major car accident, as well as a minor accident involving a little girl on a bike.

In addition to a possible redo of the Jetton/Old Jetton intersection, there are other changes afoot:

There seems to be agreement on the board that the 45 mph speed limit from Peninsula Shores out to West Catawba is too high.

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Plans for multi-use paths on one or both sides of Jetton are actively in the works, although there may be opposition from some people who want to preserve the current aesthetic which was recently enhanced.


Click to enlarge

“It is a dangerous intersection which I have personally experienced many times.  Town staff will seriously examine the ideas exchanged with the board and most likely proceed with engineering studies of the area.  I want to be ready to deal with this problem as well as the speed limit issue on Jetton as soon as the road is turned over by the state to the town,” said Woody Washam, a member of the Cornelius Town Board.

Plans to repave Jetton, a state-maintained road, got under way a number of years ago when the frequently patched surface began to fail in many areas. The town’s Transportation Advisory Board recommended that the speed limit be reduced to 35 miles per hour for the entire length of the road, but the town took no action on that recommendation.

“I have long supported a hard look at the speed limit,” said Commissioner Dave Gilroy “and likely an adjustment downward.”

The problem at Old Jetton and Jetton is “too much happening” so close to the intersection of Jetton and West Catawba, a major intersection, said Lowrance, who lives on Mountainview off Jetton. He and Watson have brought the intersection to the town’s attention twice so far.

The town will hire Parsons Brinckerhoff, one of the world’s top planning and engineering firms, to look at the intersection. Watson and Lowrance have suggested a plan that would eliminate left-hand turns from Old Jetton on the Harris Teeter side to Jetton, and from the Brooklyn South Pizzeria/Waterbean Coffee parking lot to Jetton.

Instead, left-hand turns would be allowed from Beaufain Street behind the Harris Teeter. Watson and Lawrence proposed a new one-way street behind the Brooklyn South parking lot heading immediately west to Jetton to provide left-turn opportunities down into The Peninsula.

Lowrance and Watson—not to mention members of the cycling community—said the town missed some opportunities during the $1.46 million Jetton rebuild.

The town is spending some $45,000 on a bicycling master plan, with the state footing 70 percent of the bill. A design with exclusive bike lanes on either side of Jetton had no traction; now there are discussions under way about installing multi-use paths eight to 10-feet wide on both sides of the road to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

But those discussions have run into obstacles as well.

“Multi-use paths…are problematic, there is not a lot of room, unless you completely re-landscape Jetton Road, which would require a tremendous investment,” Commissioner Jim Duke said. New benches and trees have been added along Jetton in the past year.

In an email criticizing multi-use paths, Duke said “there are many other areas within the Town that have no sidewalks or multi-use paths at all.” He also raised  a number of other concerns, including protecting the “significant number” of utility lines running along Jetton adjacent to the roadway.

Commissioner Dave Gilroy responded: “I’m hearing from a lot of folks out there who are really excited about this.”

And in another email, Duke said this:

“Excellent point Dave.  This should never rest on the opinion of a few, but rather the entire affected community.  My concerns are mine and I won’t road block something that the entire community wants, but any decision needs to be based upon full knowledge of the ramifications of the project.  I see this project as several years off strictly from a budget perspective.  I don’t want to get people’s hopes up that the Town is moving quickly on this in the near term. Let’s get that survey tool fine tuned and use it for this and other likely controversial projects.”

The Cornelius Today website has survey capabilities. We’ll start with this question, crafted with Commissioner Duke’s help:

Do you feel the speed limit on Jetton Road should be 35 mph from West Catawba Avenue west to Meta and on to John Connor Road and beyond.

Please answer Yes or No under the “Reader Poll” section on the right side of our website.

A question regarding multi-use paths is more complicated, so we’re asking your help. Keeping in mind that we strive to remove bias from questions, how should we phrase a question about multi-use paths along Jetton? Email your ideas to corneliustoday@gmail.com