Council asks for grant information, other options from state
Before making any decisions on Monroe Road, the Indian Trail town council wants to know every option that’s available. Council members unanimously voted at their Tuesday, Feb. 28 meeting to have the town staff work with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to flesh out available options, like state or federal grants, to use on the widening project.
“I understand the urgency of widening Monroe Road, but there’s still work to be done,” council member Chris King said. “The big question is how do we facilitate that?”
Currently, the widening project is split into segments, with only some of those funded. The first segment runs from downtown Matthews to Interstate 485 and isn’t funded in the current 30 year plan for the state’s transportation budget. The second segment, running the 2.9 miles from I-485 to Indian Trail Road, is funded, but in a future budget. The state has money set aside to use on the project beginning in 2018. The third leg of the project, running 2.4 miles from Indian Trail Road to Wesley Chapel Stouts Road, also is unfunded in the state’s 30-year transportation budget. Indian Trail residents voted in November to approve a $10-million bond, designated for that third segment, to speed up construction.
“Sometimes you’ve got to run with (the) momentum,” councilwoman Darlene Luther said, encouraging the council to develop a timeline and support for a direction on the project. Luther said the town managed to get the project on the state’s transportation list within the last year and a half and suggested now was the best time to get something done, while people supported the idea.
At the council’s Feb. 14 meeting, staff members outlined options to move forward. Those included waiting until 2018 for the state to start construction, make interim improvements by working on the third segment in phases, partner with the state to build the third segment or partner with the state to design the third segment, while waiting until 2018 to start construction. Another option is for the towns involved to take out a loan and finance the project, then get paid back by the state in 2018 when the funds become available.
Council members received a presentation from town engineer Scott Kaufhold, detailing the history of the Monroe Road project, as well as information on the town’s comprehensive plan. Some council members asked if there were any other options, such as additional federal or state grant money that might have been overlooked the first time around. Councilman David Waddell asked if the city of Monroe had ever been approached to help fund the project, pointing out that a four lane Old Monroe Road would benefit the city’s airport. Town manager Joe Fivas said that staff members had discussed the idea with the city, but no agreements had come out of those talks.
Council member Robert Allen made the motion, which was approved, for staff to pursue options with the NCDOT for the town to consider.
“It’s really really clear what the top priorities are for the residents,” Allen said, pointing out that in every survey over the last four years, road improvements ranked in the top two most important things. Delaying a decision won’t help solve the problem, he added. “It will not get cheaper and (traffic) won’t get better.”