MONROE – Union County is continuing to work with towns and villages to improve critical intersections.
The county is applying for $100,000 in planning funds this month from the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization to begin the design and determine cost estimates for five intersections.
The county came up with a list of 15 critical intersections earlier this year to improve. It received funding to develop designs and cost estimates for six of those intersections already.
The county plans to partner with municipalities to split the local match requirements for these five additional intersections:
• Bonds Grove Church and Waxhaw-Marvin Road (Marvin).
• N.C. 75 and Potter Road (Mineral Springs).
• U.S. 601 and Brief Road (Fairview).
• Poplin Road and Unionville-Indian Trail Road (Monroe).
• N.C. 200 and Plyler Mill Road (unincorporated Union County).
Bjorn Hansen, the county’s transportation planner, said partnering with municipalities helps reduce the county’s cost for the local match, while also showing the CRTPO that the projects are part of a county initiative. The CRTPO is comprised of elected leaders across Union, Mecklenburg and southern Iredell counties to allocate federal transportation dollars.
The county will find out if it obtained the funding in February.
Three of the intersections are unsignalized, while the N.C. 75 and Potter Road has traffic signals but no turn lanes.
The intersection at Poplin and Unionville-Indian Trail roads was a surprise to Hansen.
“We weren’t even expecting to evaluate (it) through this process until we got a significant amount of citizen input on the needs of this intersection,” Hansen said. “It has a lot of turn lanes already, but due to a curve issue, there have been a lot of crashes. It has a lot of turn lanes but it’s not working. It’s probably going to be retrofitted as something else.”
The process will allow transportation planners to evaluate crash history and traffic volume data to come up with viable alternatives. Those will be taken to the public for feedback. A preferred design will be identified with cost estimates.
“It allows us to weigh in on what’s the best, most feasible and most useful improvement to that location,” Hansen said.
Projects that are further along
CRTPO plans to spend $55 million in smaller-scale intersection projects over five years, Hansen said. The agency is accepting funding applications from municipalities through Oct. 31. Decisions will be made in 2020.
Waxhaw approached Union County about putting up $100,000 toward a roundabout at N.C. 75 and Old Providence Road once the project reaches the construction phase. The town has already committed $320,000 toward the $2.2 million project.
Commissioner Jerry Simpson said during the Oct. 21 board meeting that he hoped something could be done about the access to the convenience store at the intersection.
“People believe when they are coming out of the convenience store that they are on the highway and they have access to all lanes of traffic,” Simpson said. “Sometimes you don’t know if that person is sitting in the convenience store parking lot, so they may come shooting across in front of you as you turn left.”
Hansen estimated that the intersection has seen more than 60 crashes in a five-year period, which was the highest among all the intersections they evaluated for funding.
“It is a scramble area,” Hansen said. “Safety is a huge component. Especially with a roundabout, you have a terrific amount of flexibility to revise access to any location at that intersection and still provide them with full access, particularly with left-hand turns which are problematic.
The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to add left-turn lanes on N.C. 84 and Rocky River Road, a signalized intersection in Monroe that Hansen said has a high number of crashes.
NCDOT estimates that it can fund $750,000 of the project, according to Hansen. The NCDOT has reached out to Union County and Monroe about each chipping in a $50,000 match to push the $2 million project through.
Commissioner Richard Helms mentioned how the price tag for the project seemed high. That’s because the CRTPO requires a “pretty healthy contingency,” Hansen said, noting that unspent money goes into a pot for other projects.
Assistant County Manager Brian Matthews said commissioners set aside $500,000 over five years for projects such as this. To this point, commissioners have funded one project: $200,000 toward a roundabout at N.C. 200 and Rocky River Road.