MONROE — While there have already been two public forums for residents, property and business owners along the U.S. 74 corridor to voice their opinions on the highway’s impending facelift, there’s still one more chance for folks to have a say.
The city of Monroe announced Tuesday a new online survey for residents, business and property owners, so leaders in Indian Trail, Stallings, Monroe and the county can effectively plan for the corridor’s revitalization.
Lisa Stiwinter, director of planning and development for Monroe, said the project began because when the Monroe Bypass/Connector is developed it will divert much traffic from the current U.S. 74 corridor and provide new opportunities for redevelopment.
This survey is part of planning efforts necessary to identify a new vision for the corridor and make sure development is at the right levels. The plan also will develop strategies for coordinating land use planning, infrastructure improvements and design regulations for properties within the corridor.
Stiwinter said in order for the U.S. 74 Corridor Revitalization Plan to be successful, leaders need to hear from all residents, realtors, developers, business and property owners with a stake in the corridor.
“Any time you have a project like this, you want as much public input as possible,” she said.
The project consultants conducted stakeholder meetings, in addition to the public forums, but towns’ staff wanted to make sure everyone was heard from.
“After the kickoff meetings we had, we realized that although we had a decent turnout, we wanted to maximize the public input we received so we figured, why not put the questions from the public kick off online and get as many people as possible to weigh in and provide their ideas, opinions and vision and goals of what they want to see 74 become,” Stiwinter said. “Because it will only be successful if everyone is involved and we have the community’s input.”
The survey has 21 questions ranging from demographic information to defining a vision for the thoroughfare.
“We want to know how people use the highway, to commute, shopping … how many vehicle trips they take, do they use it for walking, biking or transit, and if not, if the opportunity was there, would they,” she said. “There’s some questions about what their goals are, what they envision … just trying to get some input on what the community feels are the issues right now and what their goals are that they’d like to see happen through this project.”
She said so far, she’s been pleased with the public’s response to this project.
“The process we’ve had has gone well,” Stiwinter said. “I think we’re seeing from residents, business and property owners the same kind of issues, concerns and goals that the staff has.”
A lot of the concerns so far have been about traffic congestion and the corridor’s appearance regarding signs and billboards.
Stiwinter said once the online surveys have been completed, the consulting group will take all of the comments and develop a Highway 74 Corridor Framework Plan.
Once that plan is together the towns will hold design meetings in May to give the public another opportunity to see what’s proposed and comment on the plan.
While this adds an extra step for consultants, Stiwinter said, because the last day to fill out a survey is April 20, the consultants will still reach their goal of having phase one of this project completed sometime in June.
Phase one of the project, which includes the public comment periods and design, will cost about $156,000. The three towns and the county each put in about $20,000, and $100,000 came from a grant from the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Stiwinter said she’s not sure when phase two will begin, because it all hinges on getting funding approved.
“We started this project in October,” she said. “I don’t know if there will be a timeframe in between or if we’ll just go into the next phase.”
She said phase two is all about strategies and the implementation of the design work completed in phase one.
To fill out a survey, visit either www.monroenc.org, www.indiantrail.org, www.stallingsnc.org or www.surveymonkey.com/s/V6L88ND, by April 20.