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Cornelius News

Nightmare on W. Catawba?

UPDATED Oct. 4. By Dave Vieser. The long-awaited widening of West Catawba Avenue between Jetton Road and NC Highway 73 will ultimately bring a new four-lane divided highway to the very busy western Cornelius corridor. Getting there however may prove to be a real test of wills for drivers and pedestrians.

The NC Dept. of Transportation is purchasing rights of way now, according to NCDOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson.

The project is currently scheduled for letting in August 2024, with construction to follow in fall 2024.

When asked how long the $50+ million project will take, she said: “Up to three years.”

Late 2027 completion

That means three years during which motorists will have to endure construction into 2027.

Compounding those delays will be a number of previously approved projects along the corridor, some of which may be under construction at the same time.

Presently, traffic flow on the two-lane section of West Catawba can be disrupted for blocks at a time by such commonplace movements left turns, or school buses discharging kids. Add construction work and vehicles to the mix, and a new definition of misery might indeed materialize.

And there are really no parallel alternate routes.


NEW on Monday Oct. 4: Mayor Woody Washam met with NC Secretary of Transportation Eric Boyette “who provided assurances that every effort is moving forward to speed up project dates.”  The Infrastructure Bill now in the final stages of approval in the US House of Representatives is supported by the Metro Mayors Coalition and is projected to be a major resource to the state increased funding including Cornelius.  “In addition, Commissioner Miltich is highly involved as chair of CRTPO to accelerate schedules here and throughout the region.  I remain very optimistic that this can be accomplished,” Washam said.

Construction projects

Some of those projects which have been approved for the West Catawba corridor and may be under construction at the same time include Junker (195 multifamily units); Alexander Farm (55 acres mixed-use ) and CD Nantz (convenience store).

Others along the corridor are already under construction including the Retreat at West Catawba and Cambridge Square.

No one denies the need for the widening, but getting around town during the construction could be challenging.

Coordinating with developers

Recent rezonings approved by the town requires developers to coordinate and “phase” their work in conjunction with the NCDOT, but how well this works is anybody’s guess.

Meanwhile town officials are still trying to get the NCDOT to expedite the widening timetable.

“Some funds are already dedicated for this project so if the state can get the utility relocations and property acquisitions done ahead of time, we do have a chance to lobby the DOT to move this timetable up,” Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron said at the Sept. 20 Town Board meeting.