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Study of I-77 links to start

Mooresville board to weigh bids on plans for future connector roads.

By Joe Marusak
jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com
Joe Marusak
Columnist/reporter Joe Marusak writes about the people of Lake Norman and also covers retail, restaurant and development news.

Mooresville could lay the groundwork this week for two major east-west connector roads, one that could lead to a new Interstate 77 interchange at Cornelius Road, north of existing Exit 36.

Town commissioners on Monday will consider awarding a $43,000 contract for a consultant to study a Cornelius Road-Mazeppa Road connector. The study by consultant Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jerigan would take about a year.

Commissioners also will consider awarding a $78,000 contract to consultant Chas. H. Sells Inc. to study a connector from I-77 Exit 32, which is under construction near Lowe's Cos. Inc.'s national headquarters in south Iredell. The connector could eventually lead east to Coddle Creek Highway (N.C. 3) and beyond. That study also would take about a year.

Mooresville's only major east-west connector is traffic-clogged N.C. 150, so the connectors would alleviate congestion on that road, Planning Director Tim Brown said.

The connector at Exit 32 would also help handle tremendous growth expected when the town extends utilities there, Brown said. Exit ramps will lead in one direction to the planned $800 million Langtree at the Lake community and in the other direction to Lowe's and its thousands of corporate workers.

Commissioners on Monday also will consider awarding a $153,000 contract for consultant LandDesign Inc. to develop “`small area plans” at both the proposed I-77 Cornelius Road interchange and the state's planned I-77 interchange at Brawley School Road (Exit 35). The Brawley School Road interchange is part of the state's widening of the road to four lanes.

The small area plans will help guide how the town wants the areas around those interchanges to grow – and not grow, Brown said. The town would not want another Exit 36 and its chronic traffic woes, he said.

Having a small area plan in place around the proposed Cornelius Road interchange could help spur a developer to help finance the interchange in exchange for a major development there, Brown said.

“We see the Cornelius Road corridor as an employment center with direct access to the interstate,” Brown said, in part because it would extend to Mooresville Business Park on Mazeppa Road.

The small area plans will take six to eight months to complete.

Both connectors were recommended in the 1998 Town of Mooresville Thoroughfare Plan and the 2007 Mooresville Comprehensive Transportation Plan, town Transportation Planner Chris Bauer said. He said he can trace plans for such an east-west connector across south Iredell as far back as 1983.

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