Indian Trail backs out of deal to work with Matthews and Stallings on matching grant
The Indian Trail town council rejected a proposal Tuesday, Feb. 22, to work with Matthews and Stallings on a regional transportation plan, saying the idea would just waste taxpayer money that could be better used.
In September, the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization set aside up to $75,000 in planning funds for the three towns to develop a long-term regional transportation plan, detailing road needs and future priorities. The money wasn’t free, however. The towns were to contribute at least 20 percent of the planning cost as part of a matching grant. If they don’t show “adequate progress” by the end of June, the state will withdraw the money.
Indian Trail Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Goodall and his fellow council members questioned why the towns needed another transportation plan that would just identify projects that couldn’t get funded. They pointed to the Local Area Regional Transportation Plan, designed in 2008 by four western Union towns. Tired of waiting for the N.C. Department of Transportation to fix traffic problems, Marvin, Waxhaw, Weddington and Wesley Chapel teamed up to create their own road plan. Each contributed $30,000, with the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization adding $80,000. However, earlier this year, planning organization officials said the issue couldn’t be added to their long range funding plan, which covers the next 30 years worth of projects.
“It doesn’t work,” Goodall said. “Waxhaw tried this and it failed. There were dollars spent, for what?”
Other Indian Trail council members agreed.
“I think we have so many plans as it is, I’d rather see the money go into some (improvement projects),” council member Darlene Luther said.
“I’m tired of getting ready to get ready,” councilman Robert Allen said. “Let’s do something.”
Under the proposal, the three towns would have to agree on the proposed cost of the plan and how to select a firm to do the work. Once all three towns agree on a firm, one of them would have to sign a contract. The remaining two towns would then sign inter-local agreements. The catch is that in order to keep the state portion, ‘significant progress’ would have to be shown on the plan by June. If the state deemed that goal hadn’t been met, the $75,000 would go away, leaving the bill in the hands of the municipalities.
Town staff from Indian Trail, Matthews and Stallings met Feb. 15 with two prospective firms, Charlotte-based Kimley Horn and Florida-based Wilbur Smith and Associates, to discuss potential costs. The town of Matthews additionally had stepped forward and agreed to sign the contract, something Goodall added he wasn’t thrilled with. He questioned the benefit of Indian Trail partnering with a Mecklenburg County town.
“I think we’ve got our own resources (to do planning),” Goodall said.
Instead, the council directed staff to look into the possibility of the town taking a portion of that $75,000 to do intersection improvements and other needed road construction.