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Landowners balk at plans for 4-lane connector road

By Joe Marusak
jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com

MOORESVILLE A planned four-lane connector between Cornelius and Mazeppa roads could still be at least a decade away, but some residents are already telling the town they don't want it slicing through their decades-old neighborhoods.

“We're set in our ways,” resident Rita Thompson said. “We don't need more traffic.”

The town unveiled several possible routes for the connector at a public workshop attended by about 30 residents last week.

The proposed east-west “boulevard” is part of a long-term plan by the town to ease congestion on notoriously bottlenecked N.C. 150 at Interstate 77 Exit 36.

Improvements include an I-77 interchange at Cornelius Road north of Exit 36 and the four-lane connector between U.S. 21 and N.C. 115.

The town also plans a major east-west connector to the south, from I-77 Exit 32 that's nearing completion near the Lowe's Companies Inc. national headquarters. That connector will lead east to Coddle Creek Highway (N.C. 3) and beyond.

Both connectors were recommended in the 1998 Town of Mooresville Thoroughfare Plan and the 2007 Mooresville Comprehensive Transportation Plan. Town officials said they traced plans for an east-west connector across south Iredell as far back as 1983.

The Cornelius Road connector would be three-quarters of a mile long and be divided by a grass median. It would link Cornelius Road with Mooresville Business Park on Mazeppa Road. That would make it easier to move freight between the interstate and Mazeppa Road industries, town officials said.

The $16 million connector has not yet made it onto the state's Transportation Improvement Plan, so it has no funding or start date, Carl Gibilaro of project consultant PBS & J of Charlotte told residents. “It's more likely a developer comes in to help build this project,” he said.

The 45-mph connector could take 10 or 15 years to get state Department of Transportation funding, Gibilaro and Mooresville Transportation Planner Neil Burke said.

Several residents at last week's workshop said they hope the road is never built. They said they're also upset the town is laying out plans for the connector with accompanying land-use restrictions.

“They're trying to dictate what you can do with your property when (the connector) is a pipe dream,” said Chuck Naas, who owns land at Mazeppa Road and N.C. 115.

Town Manager Steve Husemann told Naas that he can still go through the town's regular zoning process with any plans for his land.

Thompson said she's upset that the connector could take half her land on Glory Lane.

“We've lived 50 to 75 years out there,” said Thompson, whose grandmother bought the property in the 1930s. “We don't want more traffic out there, plus we'd have nowhere else to go. We don't need all this ‘job opportunity.' Go put it somewhere else.”

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