Land developer and DOT agree to land donation for road construction
More than 20 years since planning first started to extend Rea Road, the project may move past the paperwork stage. Local developers have reached an agreement to donate right of way to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for a two lane extension, which would add new segment from the intersection of Rea and Providence roads to NC 84/Weddington Road near the 12 Mile Creek Road intersection.
“The landowner has agreed to donate the land for the right of way,” Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson explained, “and is working to reconfigure the road so that it is more environmental friendly” and in keeping with the current landscape.
Without the road extension or “I-84 relocation” as Anderson calls it, Providence Road not only serves as the main north-south corridor for Union County residents, east-west drivers also must utilize it for a one-mile stretch. She says the Rea Road extension can help avoid a “massive bottleneck that we are otherwise powerless to fix.”
Anderson and Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry spent recent weeks meeting with Department of Transportation officials and a land developer to donate land that during better economic times it hoped to pave on its own. When Infinity Partners and the Base Group acquired land several years ago in hopes of developing their proposed subdivision ‘The Woods’, part of the terms with the town included the developers paying for a portion of the Rea Road extension. The local transportation authority, the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization, voted to allocate funding to make up the difference.
When the developers’ plan for a wastewater treatment plant was rejected by the town and the housing market started shrinking, the extension started looking like a thing of the past. The transportation authority kept pushing back funding for Rea Road as well, to the point it currently sits in the back half of almost 300 projects vying for road dollars.
Now town officials are working with the DOT to fix the details on a smaller scale two lane road, to get the process back on track.
In January, the MUMPO board voted to give Weddington 60 days to get right of way approval for that two lane road. Had the town failed, the project would have been removed from the authority’s current 30 year funding plan.
Frustrating for Anderson and others, the governmental process for planning and building roads is complex. “It is a 47-step process,” she says, although in the case of this particular project a quarter of the steps are complete.
Outlining a timeline for breaking ground on the road construction is tough. “I can’t even guess at that,” says Anderson, “and I have been working on this project since the mid