Indian Trail in midst of infrastructure upgrades

INDIAN TRAIL – Town staff and construction crews are busy in Indian Trail working to improve overburdened roads in light of rapid population growth in the largest town in Union County.

Indian Trail’s council and staff set numerous projects in motion years ago that residents are now seeing come to fruition through a combination of a taxpayer-approved road bond package, grant money, state funds and annual town budgeting. Indian Trail currently has at least four road projects in motion or about to start, not including North Carolina Department of Transportation work that will start soon on the town’s four intersections on U.S. 74 and the Indian Trail Road bridge near Indian Trail Elementary School, which will happen next spring or summer.

“Traffic congestion is our No. 1 issue,” said Joe Fivas, Indian Trail town manager, on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Fivas made a presentation to town council last week detailing many of the ongoing projects and highlighting future work.

“We’ve been working for the last year and a half (and are) now getting to the point … where a lot of things are starting to rise from the earth,” Fivas said. “… The town council has put a plan together to reduce traffic congestion, and some of these projects are aimed at doing that.”

Congestion during the morning and evening peak rush hours has grown as Indian Trail’s population quickly skyrocketed from roughly 11,000 in 2000 to more than 33,000 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The town approved a $7 million street and sidewalk bond package in 2011 to start hammering away at the need, and drivers and pedestrians will soon start seeing a difference, town leaders hope.

Two projects – sidewalks on Chestnut Lane at Austin Village and on Poplin Road near the elementary school – are complete. Two miles worth of sidewalk on Unionville-Indian Trail Road, connecting the Walmart shopping center to Sardis Elementary School, will be complete in roughly a month. Two more miles of sidewalk will be constructed on Rogers Road connecting area neighborhoods to Shiloh and Sun Valley elementary schools. Eighty percent of the Unionville-Indian Trail and Rogers sidewalks are being paid for by federal air quality grants.

Fivas said the sidewalks are a step in the right direction toward cutting down on the amount of vehicle trips in Indian Trail.

“We’re leveraging federal funds to get some of the (air quality) projects, which reduces the amount of traffic,” Fivas said.

Road projects also are under way, including the multi-phase Chestnut Parkway project. The road eventually will connect U.S. 74, Matthews-Indian Trail Road, Gribble Road and Old Monroe Road together. The first leg, near the Chestnut Square at Indian Trail Park off Matthews-Indian Trail Road, will be paved soon. Town council will discuss the next phase – connecting the parkway into U.S. 74 – at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8. If approved, the project could start construction this month and be completed by the spring. It will require a deceleration and acceleration lane be added to U.S. 74 where it connects with the parkway north of the Taco Bell at 13710 Independence Blvd.

The third phase of the parkway project will connect Gribble and Old Monroe roads, completing the path and potentially spreading traffic congestion between Old Monroe, Matthews-Indian Trail and U.S. 74. Indian Trail also is constructing a connector road from Chestnut to Indian Trail Road, called Shady Bluff Road, that will open in the spring. Some widening work also will be done on Matthews-Indian Trail Road to Indian Trail Road.

“The town has been planning for the last couple years to address the traffic congestion issues,” Fivas said, “and now we’re in a position that, for the next five years, we’ll aggressively address the issues and you’ll see significant traffic congestion reductions … based on what the council approves.”

Future projects include intersection work at Sardis Church and Unionville-Indian Trail roads, in front of Sardis Elementary School; at Wesley Chapel Stouts and Rogers roads; and at Gribble and Indian Trail roads.

The town has enough money for the planned projects thanks in part to grants and federal dollars Indian Trail has secured, Fivas said. The current federal government shutdown won’t have any effect on those Indian Trail projects, he added.

The NCDOT has a number of projects planned for the near future in Indian Trail. Town officials will learn more about planned NCDOT work at U.S. 74 intersections within the next 60 days. The state will make improvements at the U.S. 74 intersections at Indian Trail, Unionville-Indian Trail, Faith Church and Sardis Church roads. The town does not have exact details about the NCDOT intersection work.

The NCDOT will work with the town on repaving projects on Rogers Road, from Old Monroe Road to Wesley Chapel Stouts Road; Chestnut Lane, from Weddington Road to Old Monroe Road; and a section of Wesley Chapel Stouts Road.

Two other big Indian Trail roads projects are still up in the air. The state is again working on approval for the Monroe Bypass, which could impact traffic on U.S. 74, and on plans for improving Old Monroe Road.

Indian Trail leaders will have to decide, likely by this time next year, what to do with money the town has saved for the Old Monroe project. The town could give its $10 million approved in a separate Old Monroe bond and use it to improve the road in Indian Trail – a stretch of street from Indian Trail Road to Wesley Chapel Stouts Road – or put it all toward the full state project – from the Matthews side of Interstate 485 to Wesley Chapel Stouts Road. According to Fivas, Indian Trail could receive an additional $5 million worth of road work from the state if the town gives its $10 million to the project, based on a new road funding program.

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