Indian Trail calls for guarantees on Monroe Road expansion, before signing off on connector
Before the Indian Trail town council signs off on the proposed Chestnut Lane extension, they want written guarantees from the state. Seeing improvements to Monroe Road as a more important project, the council instructed Town Manager Joe Fivas to relay that message to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Fivas met with Division 10 engineer Barry Moose Monday, Oct. 11 and is working with staff members from the town of Stallings to arrange a joint meeting between the two municipalities and Moose, in hopes of coming to an agreement.
“[The Chestnut Lane extension] is four lanes, to be emptied out onto Monroe, which is two lanes,” Indian Trail Mayor John Quinn said. “I don’t understand the rationale. How is that going to help anything?”
Quinn and members of the council asked Fivas to see if Moose would be willing to put in writing a promise he stated in previous discussions with the town and an interview with Union County Weekly Sept. 22, that he would include the needs for Monroe Road in any Chestnut Lane project, even if that means breaking it up and building it in parts, as funding becomes available. The importance of Monroe Road repairs is something the Indian Trail council made clear was a priority during their Tuesday, Oct. 12 meeting.
“I’m not a big fan of [the] Chestnut Connector,” Council member Darlene Luther said. “Any money that comes our way needs to go onto Monroe Road.”
Moose also said he recognizes the state won’t solve the traffic problem just building the Chestnut Lane extension, which would link Monroe Road and U.S. 74. A look at the 30-year funding plan for the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization shows no available dollars for Old Monroe Road improvements. Unless changes are made during the next version of the plan, which outlines projects through 2040, Monroe Road will remain at two lanes for the foreseeable future.
That could change, Moose told UCW Sept. 22, once Chestnut Lane goes through the project development mode. If both towns support the proposal, Moose’s staff would gather the details for building a four-lane extension, including the impact of all those cars turning onto Monroe Road.
However before anything can change, Moose needs support from both Indian Trail and neighboring Stallings, as he would use money allocated for road improvements in each town to pay for a portion of the project.
The Department of Transportation has no funding in the current 30-year plan to expand Monroe Road. The state also didn’t have funding for four-lane Chestnut Lane. That’s why the department originally came to Stallings and Indian Trail, asking the towns to combine funds designated for road improvements.
To build the first two lanes and buy right of way would cost $30 million. The state plans to pay for using:
• $14 million currently earmarked to widen Stallings Road.
• $8 million allocated to widen Indian Trail Road.
• $8 million from the state agency’s general fund.
The state would still need another $18 million to add the final two lanes, based on June 2010 cost estimates. As of Oct. 12, that funding still hadn’t been hammered out, which is one of the concerns for Indian Trail council members, who want to make sure they don’t agree to fund Chestnut Lane, only to see Monroe Road turn into more of a traffic jam.
“[The state] can’t give a guarantee [about funding],” Fivas told council members, in discussing his meeting with Moose. “We talked about their interest and their need in having a four lane facility at [the Chestnut Lane] location.”
The problem of finding road money isn’t a new one for Indian Trail. A growing town that covers more than 26 square miles, the municipality has a list of more than $10 million in road and sidewalk projects. But except for the intersection of Faith Church and Unionville-Indian Trail roads, which was repaired in 2009 using $400,000 in federal economic-stimulus dollars, none of the projects is earmarked for federal or state dollars.
A date for the joint meeting between Moose, Stallings staff and Indian Trail staff had not been set as of press time.