Work is scheduled to begin later this month on improvements to the tricky intersection of Queens and Providence roads between Myers Park and Eastover a longtime bane of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The intersection, a key artery for south Charlotte commuters, has become more congested through the years. Now Harris Teeter is expanding its store at the intersection, and will pay for road improvements deemed necessary by city and state transportation officials to help handle the additional traffic from the larger store.
In 1999, between 18,000 and 27,000 vehicles passed through the intersection each day on average. By 2010, the number had grown to 26,000-30,000, according to the state Department of Transportation.
For motorists coming into town on Providence, the road improvements mean a right-turn lane that can hold more cars getting those vehicles out of the through lanes more efficiently.
For pedestrians, they mean shorter crosswalks and at least one expanded island to stand on.
A lot goes on near this intersection. Theres the Harris Teeter, the Myers Park Branch Library and two big churches nearby. Also, Queens University of Charlotte is about a half mile away.
Stephanie Dooley is a law librarian who lives off Providence and commutes to uptown. She drives through the intersection each morning on her way to work, but avoids the turn from Providence onto Providence a maneuver she calls a nuisance.
It doesnt matter which direction youre trying to go or how youre trying to turn, its not good, she said. When heading into town, she continues straight on Queens Road, then takes East Third.
Dooley said she would sometimes like to stop at the Harris Teeter Express at that intersection on her way home, but often avoids it because of the 5 p.m. traffic.
Sometimes its not worth it, she said. Id rather go all the way down Providence, past my house, just to find a Harris Teeter that I can make a right into and come back out to a light because crossing Providence is just not fun.
Harris Teeter plans to expand its express store on Providence into a two-story, 42,000-square-feet store. The expansion will cost Harris Teeter more than $10.2 million, according to building permits.
The company began work in April by demolishing the old Myers Park Hardware building at the site, most recently the home of Interiors Marketplace.
Increasing the waiting space for cars in the right-turn lane on Providence will help prevent right-turning vehicles from backing up into the through lanes, said Rick Grochoske, land development section manager at the Charlotte Department of Transportation. According to zoning documents, the length of the lane will be increased from less than 40 feet to 170 feet.
The construction will also make the turn closer to a 90-degree angle which should slow down right-turning vehicles, Grochoske said.
The crosswalks will be adjusted to accommodate the reworked lane, which will make some of them shorter.
Work on the intersection will take six to eight weeks to complete, a Harris Teeter spokeswoman said in an email. She said the roadwork will be performed at night to avoid congestion.
Modifications to the traffic signals at the intersection will also be made. This will cost Harris Teeter approximately $30,000, Grochoske said. He said CDOT does not have information about the total cost of the intersection improvements.
Harris Teeter declined to say how much the intersection changes will cost the company.
Some intersection traffic is generated by members of the nearby Myers Park Presbyterian Church and the Myers Park United Methodist Church, which have a combined membership of more than 9,000. The Methodist church hires traffic officers to work on Sundays, when an average of 1,200-1,500 people attend worship services.
Sally Blythe, manager of Windsor Hall Antiques in the nearby Myers Park Shopping Center, agrees traffic congestion there is bad during rush hours. Blythe said shes had customers from out of town tell her they were confused by this spot where streets run into themselves.
They arent the only ones whove had trouble with it. There were 76 traffic accidents in close proximity to the intersection in the year ended Aug. 6, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Michael Abbott, acting vice president of the Myers Park Homeowners Association, attended a meeting with Harris Teeter last year. He said he hasnt seen the final project proposal, but his organization has a generally favorable opinion of the project. But some local residents are concerned about potential effects the new store will have on traffic and the streetscape, Abbott said.
The turn lane is going to help some, he said. Lets hope it helps enough.
The entire expansion project is scheduled to be completed by late summer 2013, the Harris Teeter spokeswoman said.
Matthews-based Harris Teeter operates more than 200 stores in eight states and Washington, D.C. According to the companys most recent earnings release, Harris Teeter expects to spend $215 million this fiscal year on capital improvements, which can include store renovations and new store openings.
In Charlotte, Harris Teeter is renovating or replacing several stores, including its store located on Central Avenue in Plaza Midwood.