MONROE – Congressman Robert Pittenger has reached out to Mayor Bobby Kilgore and the Monroe City Council in hopes of building consensus for his plan to convert U.S. 74 into an interstate to Wilmington.
Pittenger says he’s already sent letters to more than 400 local community leaders. The response so far has been positive for a faster connection between Charlotte and Wilmington. Then there’s Monroe.
Kilgore and the council talked briefly about the idea during their Nov. 14, expressing concerns about how Pittenger’s plan would affect neighbors, businesses and traffic flow in the city.
Six days later, Kilgore sent Pittenger a letter noting the city council could not support the request, but Monroe would be open to discussing it further.
“If taken literally and the project follows the current alignment of U.S. Highway 74, the economic impact to the existing commercial corridor would be devastating,” Kilgore wrote.
Kilgore sought assurance that converting U.S. 74 would involve new funding so that it wouldn’t take away from previously approved projects in Monroe. Some of these projects include the completion of the Monroe Expressway, the conversion of intersections into superstreets, the widening of U.S. 74 to six lanes from Rocky River Road to Roland Drive, and the reconstruction of the U.S. 74 and U.S. 601 interchange.
Pittenger wrote Kilgore a reply on Dec. 17, mentioning Interstate 74 was still a concept but one he hoped to address when infrastructure legislation moves through Congress this year.
He said stakeholders and elected leaders would have influence over the interstate’s final route. His understanding is that the interstate would take the path of new the Monroe Expressway.
“However, the commercial U.S. Highway 74 that runs through Monroe city center would become Interstate 74 Business Route, preserving the existing commercial corridor of Monroe, which I hope you know I would support,” Pittenger wrote. “This is vital to sustaining growth, while allowing an interstate route from Charlotte to Wilmington. Maintaining this balance will allow Monroe and adjacent communities to prosper.”