INDIAN TRAIL – Thousands of drivers a day blow past Indian Trail on Interstate 485 without even knowing it’s there, or how much the town has to offer if they just jumped off at the exit. So, the town’s trying to change that… again.
The town has sent a letter to the North Carolina Department of Transportation requesting the group add wayfinding signs at two exits on I-485 – Old Monroe Road and U.S. 74 – to point drivers to Indian Trail. The U.S. 74 sign currently points to Monroe, which while more well known is further down the road than Indian Trail – which sits nearly right off the exit.
“The town has experienced significant growth and development over the last several years and continues to be an attractive destination location,” the letter to the NCDOT reads. “The town is the largest municipality in Union County and named by Family Magazine as a Top 10 place to live. …We believe it is time to provide informational wayfinding for the traveling public to the town of Indian Trail.”
This isn’t the first time Indian Trail has pushed the NCDOT for a sign on the busy thoroughfare. It’s an issue that keeps coming up, but with new growth is an even bigger issue now, town council member Chris King said.
“What they don’t understand is we have two major sports facilities in Indian Trail – with Extreme Ice and Carolina Courts – that bring in 300,000 to 400,000 people a year to Indian Trail. And their business model really doesn’t depend on locals supporting their businesses. For the most part, their business comes from out of town.”
And those out-of-towners need help finding which exit to get off at, King said. Though the rest of the businesses in Indian Trail wouldn’t say no to the extra help.
“I think it’s absolutely very important,” he said. “You have Dale Jarrett Ford out there, and I think they use a slogan like ‘Find us in Historic Indian Trail.’ The passerby never having been to Indian Trail going up I-485, they won’t even know where Indian Trail is.“
The town wants four signs – two at each exit – which could cost as much as $40,000, according to NCDOT’s Scott Cole. Cole said each of the large ground-mounted signs cost around $10,000, and King said there’s been no conversations as of yet about who would pay that cost – NCDOT or the town – since the issue has always been shot down before it got to the point of talking money.
But for the NCDOT, the issue comes down to just how many towns are near those intersections, and are all of them going to come calling for signs if Indian Trail gets one.
“It depends on what towns are in that direction,” Cole said in regard to what town signs get put on intersection interchanges. “For instance, you have … several towns on the east side: Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Wingate, Marshville. So we can’t put signs for every town, so we try to select the best destination, and the one we selected at the time we built I-485 was Monroe. It was the biggest when we built the road and it’s the county seat, which of course is where … all the county facilities are.”
And while Monroe is definitely a town, or city, of destination, King says it’s not the only one. “We feel Indian Trail is a town of destination now,” he said.
Cole said in July that it could take at least a month to look at Indian Trail’s request. The town officially sent the letter to the NCDOT last week, King said.
“For a town our size to not be represented out on an interstate such as I-485 with businesses growing and coming in, I just can’t imagine how we’ve gone this long without a sign out there,” King said.