Indian Trail gets approval, $25,000 in funding
Indian Trail will get to keep $25,000 in state funds to develop a plan for improving the town’s intersections. During a regional transportation meeting Wednesday, March 16, the town officially backed out of what was to be a larger cooperative effort with Matthews and Stallings, saying it didn’t make fiscal sense.
Indian Trail officials and staff explained a regional plan wasn’t a good fit for them right now.
When his town made the original request, a key part of that plan involved looking at the intersections, as traffic counts continue to climb in the municipality of more 30,000 residents, Indian Trail town engineer Scott Kaufhold said.
“The town is pretty far along in its own comprehensive plan. We do have a lot of other pieces already done,” Kaufhold said, adding the town has pedestrian, greenway and bike plans, items that would be duplicated in a regional project. Indian Trail officials asked for a third of the $75,000 allocated the three towns jointly so Indian Trail can study intersection improvements.
By using the money to study its intersections, Indian Trail officials hope to be better prepared to make changes, Kaufhold said, since any improvements would be far less expensive
“It would be more cost effective at this point,” Indian Trail Mayor John Quinn said. “Looking more closely is what we need.”
In September, the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization set aside up to $75,000 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.
On Wednesday night, the regional transportation-planning group unanimously approved Indian Trail’s request for $25,000, leaving Stallings and Matthews with $50,000 to complete their project.
“I think it would have been much more beneficial for all three towns,” Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said, adding he didn’t appreciate finding out through the media, rather than from Indian Trail officials. “It should not have transpired the way it did,” Taylor said.
Quinn apologized to Taylor for the lack of communication between the two towns.
At their March 14 meetings, leaders of Matthews and Stallings voted to move forward with their plan. Each town will contribute $24,000, with Matthews hiring Florida-based Wilbur Smith and Associates to complete the project.
“I am disappointed that the Town of Indian Trail pulled out,” Taylor said. “They are clearly involved in the (traffic) congestion around here, and I think this could have helped them, but we’ll move on without them.”
The joint effort was designed to mimic the Local Area Regional Transportation Plan, designed in 2008 by the Marvin, Waxhaw, Weddington and Wesley Chapel. Each contributed $30,000, with the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization adding $80,000. However, earlier this year, planning organization officials said the projects recommended by the plan can’t be added to the region’s long-range plan, which covers the next 30 years worth of projects.
Officials said they understand Indian Trail’s concerns.
“If you need to drill down and focus on details, (a regional plan) will not do the job,” Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson said. “Management of intersections is our best bet to manage congestion right now, unless more transportation dollars come this way.”