Within about six months, Weddington Road near Great Wolf Lodge will be extended and connected to Old Holland Road, creating a back way into one of the busiest interstate highway exits in the state.The 300-foot extension project near Interstate 85 and Exit 49 has been on a project list since before the hotel and indoor water park was built in 2009, said Joe Wilson, Concord’s transportation director. “This is just a little Band-Aid to get a few people who work in that area in and out a back door,” said Wilson. The road’s traffic capacity and shape should keep visitors off the road, but locals may find it useful. “During race traffic, when everyone’s stuck on Bruton (Smith Boulevard) and can’t move,” Wilson said, “these people will be able to slip out the back.”Several local businesses contributed at least 30percent of the funding for the $216,000 project. The rest comes from grants and the city’s transportation improvement fund, which is funded by property and vehicle taxes. The city’s proposed future plan for Weddington Road would transform it into a four-lane divided highway that would cross U.S. 29 and connect to Caldwell Road in Harrisburg. “It’s just a line on a map right now, and it’s not funded,” said Wilson. “But if you don’t have a line on the map, the project will never happen. It could be up to 20 years, or as soon as 10 years, depending on funding.”Wilson likened the Weddington Road project to the George W. Liles Parkway extension, which was on an improvement list for about 30 years. Construction, which recently began at the parkway’s dead-end at Weddington Road, will extend the four-lane road to U.S. 29 and add an interchange. Liles Parkway then will continue to Roberta Road, and the final leg will go from Roberta Road to N.C. 49, following the Stough Road corridor. “We hope to create major north-south and east-west connections so our roads get built properly and we have good infrastructure,” said Wilson. “Our goal is to ease traffic and add connectivity. What we’re doing now is identifying and preserving corridors, so when the money’s here, we can build it.”The city’s transportation improvement fund is about $2million annually, said Wilson. It uses that money to leverage grants, which generally require a 20percent local match. With state projects that include sidewalks and bike paths and other amenities, the city pays a 40percent match. “Nothing’s free; you have to pay to participate,” said Wilson. “We maybe have six to eight projects that we’ve leveraged through grant money, and we stretch it as far as we can. But sometimes we don’t spend for a couple of years to save for bigger projects.“Other cities our size are bypassing these grants and these funds, but we can go out there with confidence and compete for projects, knowing we have the funding to provide the match. And that’s a huge advantage for us.”The city’s improvement fund is 13 years old. During that time, 35 projects totaling $23.5million have been completed. The projects range from improving Lake Concord Road to adding turn lanes to N.C. 73 near Central Drive and International Drive. Every year, the city dedicates $150,000 to sidewalks, which cost roughly $45 per foot to build. The city requires developers to include walkways in new projects, and the city hopes eventually to have them everywhere.“That ($150,000) does not go very far when you’re doing a big sidewalk project, but at least we have it, and we’re making progress,” said Wilson. “Every little bit helps.” Another project on deck involves the rebuilding of Burrage Road from Bradley Street to Lake Concord Road. The Burrage Road bridge also will be replaced under the federal bridge replacement program and eventually will accommodate a future greenway.The widening of Poplar Tent Road and the addition of a superstreet was approved several years ago, and construction will begin this year. According to an N.C. DOT brochure, a superstreet is an intersection designed so that instead of going directly through the intersection, side-street traffic crossing the main road or turning left onto it is redirected to turn right, then access a dedicated U-turn to go in the desired direction.Lanes also will be added to N.C. 3 (Union Street South) and U.S. 601 near the CVS store. That was funded roughly four years ago, and construction is expected to begin early in 2014. Derita Road, which runs by Concord Regional Airport, is in the process of being widened, and the Cabarrus Avenue bridge is being replaced. “We always seem to be working five years in the past while looking 30 years into the future,” said Wilson.
Monday, Oct. 07, 2013
Weddington Road extension to pave way for smoother traffic in Concord
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 email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less