Union County Letters to the Editor Nov. 9

Editor’s note: Union County Weekly runs letters to the editor periodically. Send letters to news@unioncountyweekly.com

Let’s put transportation planning in perspective

Transportation dollars are dwindling and competition for project funding is tighter than ever. Last May, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the Monroe bypass project and sternly chastised turnpike staff for knowingly deceiving the public with inaccurate data. The Southern Environmental Law Center successfully argued that the turnpike authority had narrowly defined its objective and manipulated data to achieve a specific desired outcome while ignoring other less costly alternatives that would improve congestion and mobility in the 74 corridor. Some of the most compelling evidence came from a little-known study completed by Stantec Consulting in 2007. The study was commissioned by NCDOT to identify interim solutions for congestion on U.S. 74 until the bypass was constructed. It reportedly was not intended to be a long-term solution or a replacement for the bypass. The study was shelved when the bypass appeared to be moving forward and was never presented or mentioned in updates to transportation planning organizations or the public. The strategies proposed cost a fraction of the $754 million toll road and would significantly improve traffic flow, reduce crashes, and raise the level of service at intersections during peak times to acceptable levels at all of the intersections in the corridor except one (Rocky River Road).

Other evidence in the court decision included comments made by NCTA and NCDOT staff in the 74 Corridor Revitalization Study acknowledging that the bypass would not have significant impact on congestion on U.S. 74 and statements implying that improvements to that road might, in fact, be considered competition for the bypass and would not be supported by NCTA.

Many of us bought into the toll road on an expectation that it would bring significant relief for commuters traveling into Charlotte on U.S. 74. We believed the assertion that improving U.S. 74 would wipe out 59 percent of the county’s economic base. We reluctantly signed on and worked diligently to minimize the adverse impacts to our rural and town communities, thinking the road was inevitable. But how many Union County residents and regional transportation planners would support construction of the Monroe Bypass if they knew that the road is expected to provide only minimal and short term relief for congestion on U.S. 74 and that there are viable and much less costly alternatives that would preserve the commercial tax base?  Improvements to U.S. 74 and Old Monroe Road should be a higher priority and one that all of Union County should support.

Note: The Executive Summary from the Stantec Study and meeting notes from the U.S. 74 Corridor Revitalization Study can be found on www.MayorPax ton.com.

These views are my opinion and may not be shared by other members of the Stallings Town Council.

Mayor Lynda Paxton

Regarding Weddington’s land-use planning

Weddington has announced that for the first time in 10 years there will be a formal review of the land-use plan. Land-use planning is a difficult and often heated process.  Real conservatives and true capitalists believe that each individual should be able to use their property to its greatest use as long as that use does not negatively impact adjoining property.

In Weddington, we have severely limited applicable land uses, a very small commercial core, with the balance being set aside for certain limited permitted uses and residential development.  The effect has been destruction of green space and loss of our rural character through the ever-increasing fields of rooftops.

Residential development puts stress on our great schools, our water and sewer systems and our natural resources.  Zoning for single family puts enormous stress on infrastructure.  Each new home will add two cars to the roads.  Each new home will add 2.3 children to our schools.  Each new home will add roof top surface area creating more run-off to our streets and pollution into our streams.

Your input is wanted, needed and necessary.   Do you want to be able to use your property for its best use or the use defined for by members of the government?  Do you want to preserve those things we love about Weddington, large open spaces and great schools or do you want apartments and high-density housing?  Do you want quaint specialty shops, restaurants, and medical offices nearby and maybe large open green spaces set aside to protect our rural character?  Should town council work with developers to assure that land is available for a western Union County library when funding is available?  Should the town work with the YMCA to locate a full-
service program in Weddington to serve the western Union County communities?

Under our current plan, almost the entire town is zoned for single-family, 1-acre houses.  There is no room for mixed use, commercial or retail.  So how do we address these tough issues?

We face them together, as a town. The “no development” folks are already motivated.  The developers are already calling members of the council.  So, if you don’t participate, only one side of the story will be told.

Be on the lookout for the survey.  Complete it online or call town hall for a written copy.  Please come to the land-use meetings and town council meetings and politely express your thoughts and opinions.  The Weddington Town Council needs to hear from you.

Mayor Pro Tem Dan Barry

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One Response

  1. The Editor cut the lead in for this letter. This is the data that really puts things into perspective.
    Consider the following data on the state of NC transportation infrastructure:
    •More than 50% of Union County bridges and 31-40 % of Mecklenburg bridges are deficient. Statewide 40% of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. DOT would need to replace 400 annually but have less than 1/3 that planned.
    •44% or urban roads and 34% of rural roads in NC are in mediocre or poor condition. Poor roads cost drivers ($326 annually) or a total of $1.7 billion each year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs – more than an adequate maintenance budget would cost.
    •Poor roads and bridges are a factor in 30% of fatal highway accidents
    •Dollar for dollar, maintenance and repair fuels more job creation than new road construction