WEDDINGTON – Leaders in Weddington unanimously adopted a resolution during the July 8 town council meeting calling for a search for alternatives to the much-debated Monroe bypass project.
According to the resolution “acknowledging support for alternatives to the Monroe bypass,” the project was named one of the 50 worst projects in the United States in 2012 by the Sierra Club. The council passed the resolution in hopes of urging state officials to find an alternative that would better alleviate the traffic problems seen along the U.S. 74 corridor and allow for funding to be put into other needed projects in Union County, such as the widening of N.C. 16 through Waxhaw, according to Weddington Councilmember Werner Thomisser.
“We have potholes in the Stallings and Indian Trail area, they have intersections that need improvement, and they need roads,” he said. “In Waxhaw, they want to make Providence Road a four lane road from Bonds Grove Church Road into Waxhaw.”
Thomisser brought the resolution to the town council after seeing a presentation in Marvin about the bypass. He hopes other towns in Union County will follow suit and pass similar resolutions in opposition to the project.
Marvin Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Burman spoke during the Weddington meeting about the project to discuss the “myths and contradictions” of the Monroe bypass. He said the North Carolina Department of Transportation has stated the Monroe bypass is not planned to improve conditions on U.S. 74, which are expected to worsen in the coming years.
Burman gave the presentation as a private, concerned citizen, not as a council member in Marvin, he said. He worked alongside Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton to gather all of the information and create the presentation he has now given to council members in Weddington, Marvin and Hemby Bridge.
Other groups, such as the Indian Trail council and the Union County Chamber of Commerce, have spoken in favor of the stalled project. Officials with NCDOT maintain the bypass is the best option for Union County.
The bypass, at 19.7 miles, would stretch through Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe and Wingate. Some estimates show the project costing around $725 million.
“The question is, do they need to spend $800 million to fix this (U.S.) 74 problem, or is there an alternative to do it that would cost a lot less money?” Thomisser said.
Progress on the project has been stalled after a judge ruled NCDOT failed to complete a correct environmental study. Thomisser hopes this break in work will allow residents and leaders in Union County to learn more about the project and more effective ways to solve traffic issues in the county.
“In 2007, the Stantec Study by NCDOT described effective ways to improve traffic flow on U.S. 74 for a fraction of the cost,” Thomisser said. “Basically they can fix the problem by alternative means and spending a lot less
If the project continues, Thomisser doesn’t think the small improvement brought to the community by the bypass is worth how much the state would spend.
“They are going to spend $800 million to save, according to Baker’s study, more than one minute of commute time,” he said.
Leaders in Weddington aren’t the only ones concerned the Monroe bypass won’t prove to be effective. Citizens groups, like MonroeBypassFacts.com, are working to educate county leaders, residents and community members about the project and what they feel are better alternatives.
Nearby in Hemby Bridge, the board of aldermen passed a resolution opposing the construction of the bypass and also in support of looking at alternatives for the controversial project during the town’s June 27 meeting.