INDIAN TRAIL – Old Monroe Road could nearly double in width in coming years if all goes according to plans currently being crafted by Indian Trail, Stallings and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Indian Trail Town Manager Joe Fivas said traffic congestion was one of the main reasons both the towns and the state are looking at widening the road.
“It’s a fairly busy road that bisects Indian Trail,” he said. “The road has about 20,000 cars per day. It’s probably one of the more important traffic congestion areas in Indian Trail, and it’s not uncommon for traffic to be backed up from Indian Trail Road to (Interstate) 485 during commute times.”
Fivas said the Indian Trail Town Council worked with the NCDOT last year to get funding to widen the road from two lanes to four. The funding will go into effect in 2017, reaching from I-485 to Indian Trail Road.
The second half of the plan includes a bond referendum passed by Indian Trail residents for $10 million that will help the town work with NCDOT to widen the road even further, out to Wesley Chapel-Stouts Road.
“That’s generally what the project would be, to widen it to four lanes,” Fivas said. “It’s similar to what they did to Providence Road a few years ago.”
Fivas emphasized that the project has officially started, with consulting groups beginning the process of environmental reviews of utilities, environmental and historical concerns. Atkins Global, a transportation design and planning organization, is under contract to organize the initial phase of development.
Along with Atkins’ work, the towns will begin engineering and designing what the pathway will look like, Fivas said.
Atkins also will work with the town to begin public discourse about the project.
“They will be starting public comments and getting public input probably within the next few months,” he said. “That will be when people can come and say ‘I have this concern’ and they will start there and start to get feedback from the public on the project.”
Indian Trail and Stallings are working together on one half of the project, Fivas explained.
“On the first page, we partnered with Stallings and the NCDOT,” he said. “It’s a state project but we’re all working together. Stallings transferred money from another road project, and we transferred money from another road project. We worked hand in hand to get the first section funded. We actually partnered together to get that done. The second part, the town of Indian Trail will have to partner with NCDOT to build that section out.”
Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton said the town got involved to help ease traffic burdens.
“Monroe Road is hugely congested,” Paxton said. “It’s the top-ranked mobility project in the state and has been for multiple years, but there was never any funding attached to it, which I never understood. But we agreed to shift funds from other projects along with Indian Trail in order to fund the widening of Monroe Road, because we consider it a priority.”
Paxton said the towns did not agree with the widening plans that the state suggested, which could eliminate more existing businesses, homes and other features along the road.
“We were not agreeable to widening it the way they wanted us to do it,” Paxton explained. “It just made sense in my mind for us to work together and have it coordinated, since it has such a significant impact on both of our areas.”
Impact on residents will be typical of similar projects, Fivas said.
“In the initial phases, I think we’re going to expect to have a lot of good feedback from the public,” Fivas said. “I think we’ll be hearing things like how important the project is to fix traffic congestion. And the town will be working with any impacts along the way, like homes and businesses along the road. I hope that they work very closely, and the town will absolutely advocate for those homes and businesses to decrease impact as much as possible.
“Construction is going to take a while, just like with any other road construction project; there will be delays, I’m sure, but that’s a part of the progress.”
Another aspect of the two-part plan is that the funding for Indian Trail and NCDOT’s section of road, from Indian Trail Road to Wesley Chapel-Stouts Road, could be available as early as 2014, Fivas said.
“With Indian Trail, once the public meetings are done and they have their initial design ready, which should hopefully be by the end of next year, then we have funds available that could begin construction right after that,” he said. “It could actually begin on our part as soon as 2014.”
The phase from I-485 to Indian Trail Road is scheduled to receive funding in 2017.
“That’s when it’s supposed to come in, but we’re certainly going to push very hard to have that moved up,” Fivas said.
The full price tag for the project has yet to be determined.
“They will determine what the costs are and how much it will all cost to do as they conduct studies of the area and how it will be affected,” Fivas explained. “Things like how many utility lines will be affected and how underground storage tanks will be impacted. It’s kind of hard to determine costs until this part is finished, but that’s part of what they’re doing now.”
Fivas said dates for public hearings have not been set yet, but residents should stay tuned.
“We should know better dates in early January when there will be public meetings for public input,” he said. “But something people need to know is that we can begin construction as soon as 2014, so people shouldn’t think that they can wait for five more years to come out and be heard. Once they get this environmental review done, we can start moving some dirt.”