INDIAN TRAIL – The Indian Trail Town Council voted 5-0 on July 23 to contribute $5 million to help fund the multi-lane widening of Old Monroe Road.
In return for the money, the town will receive a matching $5 million for the project from the N.C. Department of Transportation and also receive $2.5 million in future projects from NCDOT.
The section of the project that council voted to contribute funds for stretches from west of Morningside Meadow Lane to east of Wesley Chapel-Stouts Road. Right-of-way work is slated to begin next year and construction will begin in 2022 with completion expected in 2025. The council stipulated in voting for allocating the money that milestones in the project must be met before portions of the funds are released. Town funds for the project will be paid after the right-of-way is completed.
Council member Jerry Morse, who is also is a member of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, outlined three options for the council at the July 23 meeting. Morse said the town could take no action, contribute $2 million or kick in the $5 million. Taking no action would push the project even further back while contributing a smaller amount may not be enough to get matching funds from NCDOT, which would be $8 million with a $2 million contribution. Contributing $5 million would put the project closer to the top of proposed NCDOT projects in the area.
“If we want Monroe Road built and we want it done in the time frame that is existing right now, we need to commit either $2 million or $5 million or something in between,” Morse said before the vote. “In my best judgment, I really feel that we are taking a risk if we do the $2 million option. The downside to doing $2 million, $2 million is a big fat maybe and that could turn into no road and we are back to 2026 and waiting on it, and we get nothing on the back end ($2.5 million in future projects).
“Through all these multiple conversations, I am hearing every word except ‘guaranteed’ if we put the $5 million in. I do believe that DOT won’t use that word because then you are trapped. We can’t make guarantees for everything. It is ours to lose, I feel like.’’
Indian Trail voters approved a $10 million bond in 2011 to help fund the project but the project has been delayed multiple times since. Mayor Pro Tem David Cohn said the new arrangement is better for Indian Trail since the town is now only contributing $5 million and still getting $5 million from NCDOT while getting an additional $2.5 million in projects from the state. Cohn sat in for Mayor Michael Alvarez who was not at the July 23 meeting.
“What I want the residents to let it really sink into them, six or eight months ago we had a $10 million bond that we were paying for,” Cohn said before the vote. “Basically, what happened is DOT came to us again and said we are going to postpone the road. I want to give kudos to this council and stepping back and saying, ‘Hey we are tired. We are tired of it.’ We thought back in 2011 we had given a $10 million bond so it would speed it up. All it has done is that they have killed it.
“The council goes, we are done and we are not giving you $10 million anymore. We are going to wipe out that bond. They come back and say here is the new plan. This isn’t the same as in 2011 when we said we would put up $10 million without any kind of a contract or anything. If we do put money up, we are going to do it as it comes along. If they postpone the road again, we are not going to give them any money. That is one of the good things about it. I personally believe that if we don’t do something with them, then we are not going to get this road.’’
The vote now means the council must decide where the money will come from. Council member Marcus McIntyre asked Town Manager Patrick Sadek what the financial impact would be on the town.
Before the vote, Sadek said the town with a $5 million contribution would have a yearly payment of around $450,000 for 14 years while that payment would be around $170,000 a year for the same length of time for a $2 million contribution.
“We could absorb both if we had to,” Sadek said. “We do have a bond, so this money will be pulled out of the bond. It will not have any impact on our CIP projects or our budget.’’
Morse also said the town could ask the county for help in funding the widening of Old Monroe Road.
“The whole region needs this project,” Morse said. “Indian Trail is stepping up here, what about Union County? Next year when there is a budget and Union County is going through their budget process, there is no reason that we can’t be down there and say we need some assistance.’’