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Cornelius News

Traffic planning at Hwy. 21 and Catawba stalls out

Oct. 11. By Dave Vieser. The plan for dual roundabouts north and south of Catawba Avenue at Highway 21 in Cornelius continues to misfire with some residents and local businesses.

Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot came to the Cornelius Town Board meeting to express concerns from the owners of the Bexley Apartments which he represents. Officials from QuikTrip, which purchased the old Acropolis site, said NCDOT is “going with the worse option that could potentially bring more traffic deeper into Smithville.”

The twin roundabouts currently being considered by the state DOT to handle traffic at the busy intersection.  QuikTrip, known as QT, has pumped $3.8 million into the site which includes an old, now-closed gas station on the corner of Burton Lane and Catawba.

Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot came to the Cornelius Town Board meeting

“I feel this configuration will destroy businesses in the immediate area, including Cashions’ Convenience Store,” Vinroot said, explaining that the residents who live in Bexley are deeply concerned.

The dual roundabout configuration emerged after some Smithville residents took exception to the quad left proposal previously planned which would have required eastbound motorists seeking to turn left from Catawba to navigate a circle similar to the traffic for eastbound motorists on Hwy. 73 at Hwy. 21 in Huntersville.

Gordon Cashion, owner of the Cashion’s Quik Stop at the southwest corner, has previously voiced his concerns about the dualroundabouts stating that potential customers would find other stores to use, essentially putting him out of business.

Competing with QT would be just fine—the traffic plan is a non-starter for both.

“Let it be know that we are not undeveloped by choice, but force,” Morin said, stating that the road redesign has change three times—from a modified roundabout, to a quad design and now the dual roundabouts.

“We feel that our company has gone above and beyond the normal process in this instance,” she said. “If approved, this new design will have a drastic effect on the business owners.”

Town Manager Andrew Grant said he was “a bit surprised in the nature of Paulette’s comments. During this entire process, the town has remained in constant contact with QT’s development representatives.”


4 Responses to “Traffic planning at Hwy. 21 and Catawba stalls out”

  1. This article is very incomplete and even misleading as you
    attempt to characterize the Smithville objection to the Quad.
    design. I suggest you interview leader/residents from the Smithville Community Coalition. You should also tell the story of the Smithville Neighborhood and US Housing Policies, systemic discrimination and isolation.
    I may be wrong but I believe your publication was mostly silent as the Smithville Community- attending several NCDOT meetings- rejected the quadrant design unanimously.
    There seems to be a balance missing from your reporting on the issue. I suggest a broader perspective be offered soon.
    QT was also rejected by the community- but the town board has already made up its mind. QT is ine cause of the causes on this traffic challenge leading to these design options. QT is not wanted adjacent to a historic neighborhood trying to revitalize itself and protect itself from extinction.

    Posted by John E Quinn | October 11, 2018, 12:33 pm
    • Nice job John, let’s get all of the facts laid out for the community. Perhaps some design and landscape requirements can help to incorporate the wheels of progress.

      Posted by John DiFiore | October 12, 2018, 10:25 am
  2. Concerns regarding the health and safety of the community; as well as the local economy were ignored regarding the QT project.
    A detailed report was forwarded to each Town leader. The full report is available. Please see a small excerpt from the full explanation below.
    from: Ava Callender
    Sun, Apr 30, 2017, 7:11 PM
    to Charles, Woody, Commissioner, Thurman, Dave, Michael,
    Dear Mayor and Commissioners,

    I have included 2 links and an excerpt from a study regarding large gas – convenience store combinations known as “hypermarts”. This information may not have been reviewed by or available to the Planning Board. The serious health, safety and financial/home (including possible FHA mortgage denial) value impact of “hypermarts” on neighborhoods is critical.

    I hope that you find this information helpful in reaching your decision. I have shared the same with some of the Smithville Coalition members. I hope that they find it helpful as well.


    Health Effects
    A number of compounds injurious to human health are released while fueling a vehicles. Health effects range from nausea to cancer. The cancer risk posed by gas station emissions stems from benzene and other compounds released to the atmosphere while pumping gas. Following is a sampling of relevant research:

    A 2003-2004 study conducted in France documented a significant relationship between childhood leukemia and living near a gas station.

    A 2010 study conducted in Spain documented elevated air pollution within 100 meters (328 feet) of a gas station.

    In 2012, Brazilian researchers found that air quality was significantly degraded up to 150 meters (492 feet) from gas stations.

    Benzene is arguably the gasoline constituent most harmful to human health. Adverse health effects of benzene include cancer, anemia, increased susceptibility to infections, and low birth weight. According to the World Health Organization Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality there is no safe level for benzene. The following studies document the extent of benzene releases from gas stations:

    A study published by the Canadian petroleum industry found average benzene concentrations of 146 and 461 parts per billion (ppb) at the gas station property boundary in summer and winter, respectively.

    A South Korean study examined outdoor and indoor benzene concentrations at numerous residences within 100 feet and between 196 to 328 feet of gas stations and found median outdoor benzene concentrations of 3.1 and 1.9 ppb, respectively. Median indoor concentrations at these locations were higher, reaching 4.1 and 5.2 ppb, respectively.

    Another study found median ambient benzene levels of 1.9 ppb in houses both 328 feet from a service station.

    Yet, another study found that benzene and other gasoline vapor releases from service stations can be discerned from traffic emissions as far as 246 feet from service stations and that the contribution of service stations to ambient benzene is less important in areas of high traffic density. This is because vehicle exhaust is usually the most abundant volatile organic compound (VOC) in urban areas, often followed by gasoline vapor emissions from fuel handling and vehicle operation.

    The California Air Resources Board publication Air Quality and Land Use Handbook: A Community Health Perspective, recommends a minimum 300-foot separation distance between gas stations and “sensitive land uses such as residences, schools, daycare centers, playgrounds, or medical facilities.” The State of California is widely recognized as having some of the most effective air pollution control requirements in the nation. Yet even with these controls a minimum separation is still required to protect public health.

    Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency echoed the concerns about the health risk associated with fueling emissions in their School Siting Guidelines. The USEPA recommended screening school sites for potential health risk when located within 1,000 feet of a high-volume gas station.

    cancer distance from gas station
    The graph above is from the California Air Resources Board Handbook. The graph shows how cancer risk varies with distance from the perimeter of a gas station. Of course the risk also varies with the volume of fuel dispensed at a location. But many of the large combination (hypermart) convenience store-gas stations being built today will sell 3 million gallons a year or more. While the cancer risk may be lower than for the 3,600,000 gallon per year throughput shown in the graph, it is by no means zero. Table 1-1, in the California Air Resources Board Handbook recommended a minimum separation distance of 300 feet between gas stations and “sensitive land uses such as residences, schools, daycare centers, playgrounds, or medical facilities.”

    Idling engines, particularly those in large diesel trucks, emit a large quantity of particulates into the local atmosphere. These particulates can pose a significant health risk for those living near convenience store/truck stops.

    Following are a couple of other examples of health effects associated with convenience stores.

    A California study noted a 50% increase in smoking among adolescents exposed to tobacco advertising during weekly visits to small grocery, convenience or liquor stores;
    Poor, inner city neighborhoods tend to lack access to supermarkets with convenience stores and fast food establishments serving as poor substitutes. An East Harlem study found that children with a convenience store on their block were significantly more likely to have a high Body Mass Index.

    Posted by Ava Callender | October 16, 2018, 6:04 am
  3. Poor article at best. It references multiple people with quotes, unclear if it’s refrrring to first or last names, without qualifying information of who they are or what side they are on. No one wants a circle there! It will not help the traffic situation, and will create additional havoc on top
    of what the diverging diamond already created. What will happen when 77 is backed up (since we know that’s an hourly occurrence). I’ve lived right off this exit for 12 years, and have never seen traffic as bad since the diamond came into play. It’s not the population increase, it’s the diamond and the fact that it just does not work for such a small span. DOT and the town need to admit they were wrong, and look to correct it rather than continue to apply bandaids that just won’t work.

    Posted by Jaime Krieg | October 17, 2018, 9:32 pm

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