CORNELIUS Town officials say they’re concerned about how long it will take for the state to complete its planned diverging-diamond interchange at Interstate 77 Cornelius Exit 28.Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant said state Department of Transportation officials told him the project could take two years to complete. That timetable prompted criticism of the DOT late Monday by Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Travis at a Cornelius Board of Commissioners meeting. He called the timetable “unacceptable.”But Jennifer Thompson, a state DOT spokeswoman, told the Observer on Tuesday that the $6.2 million project’s completion date is Nov. 1, 2014, just a year from its expected start in late October.“That is not what they’ve been communicating with us,” Travis said later Tuesday. “Sending false messages is not the way you’re supposed to be.”Grant said the two-year timetable he was given now appears to have been erroneous. But the town still foresees the project taking 14 to 18 months, considering such related work as putting utilities underground, Grant said.Travis blasted the state Monday night, saying the longer the project takes the more it will hurt businesses along Catawba and West Catawba avenues and motorists and residents. “As a town, this is something we can’t accept,” Travis said. “This is going to have a major impact.”He told the Observer on Tuesday that the state inexplicably took 1 1/2 years after West Catawba’s widening to install the large poles that hold the traffic lights and signs at intersections.The state is scheduled to award the construction contract for the Exit 28 diverging diamond Sept. 17. The earliest the contractor will begin work is Oct. 28. Much of the work will be done at night, which the town requested to lessen the impact on businesses and motorists.Exit 28 is a prime Lake Norman exit. It leads onto Catawba Avenue and downtown Cornelius in one direction, and West Catawba Avenue and Lake Norman in the other direction.Numerous lakefront subdivisions are on roads that lead off West Catawba. Many of the town’s retail centers are on West Catawba, including Magnolia Plaza, where a Publix grocery store is planned, and Jetton Village, which includes a Harris Teeter and various small retailers.At least 30,000 vehicles a day travel Catawba and West Catawba avenues, town officials said.A diverging-diamond intersection allows two directions of traffic to temporarily cross to the left side of the road while on the bridge. Once on the left side of the road, vehicles can turn left onto the I-77 ramps without stopping and without conflicting with through traffic.That makes such interchanges far safer than traditional interchanges and less traffic-clogged, transportation officials have said.The construction zone for the Exit 28 diverging diamond will be along I-77, on the bridge, in the ramp areas, and immediately beside the bridge along West Catawba and Catawba avenues, from Torrence Chapel Road to U.S. 21.The town has a diagram on its website, www.cornelius.org, that shows how traffic flows on diverging-diamond interchanges.
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Exit 28 timetable questioned
Charlotte-area diverging diamonds • I-85 at Poplar Tent Road and N.C. 73 in Cabarrus County: Both interchanges are scheduled to open in late 2014 or early 2015, DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Thompson said Tuesday. • I-485 at Mallard Creek Road in northern Mecklenburg County: It also should open in late 2014 or early 2015, Thompson said. • I-77 Cornelius Exit 28: Construction is scheduled to begin in late October and finish by Nov. 1, 2014, Thompson said. • I-77 Mooresville Exit 36: No timetable has been set, but could be at least two or three years.
Marusak: 704-987-3670On Twitter @ jmarusak.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less