The Charlotte Department of Transportation is getting ready to begin the acquisition phase of the Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Elm Lane Intersection Project.
Part of the Intersection Capacity and Multi-Modal Enhancement Program, the project will make improvements based on the capacity of vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users in the area.
CDOT has completed the planning and design phase and is now negotiating with property owners along the two roads to acquire land needed for the project.
"We have been working very closely with the area property owners to get their input on what improvements they feel need to done," said Leslie Bing, project manager for the Ballantyne project. "We've been engaging with them regularly to let them know how improvements will affect their properties."
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Construction is slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012. The estimated cost of the project will be $8.5million, and it will take about a year to complete.
The project began as an intersection improvement project alone, but as CDOT began speaking with property owners including Bi-Lo and St. Matthews Catholic Church, the project was expanded to include improvements along parts of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Elm Lane.
"We wanted to impact property owners as little as possible," said Thomas Sorrentino, the senior engineering project manager. "Instead of improving the intersection now and the roadways five or 10 years from now, we want to do it all at once."
Improvements will include connected sidewalks along Elm Lane; improved bicycle crossings at the intersection and bicycle lanes along Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Elm Lane; protective left-turn signals at each leg of the intersection; extended left-turn lanes at Elm Lane; and pedestrian refuges at the intersection.
Another improvement will be to eliminate the road peak on Ballantyne Commons Parkway, which has caused accidents at the intersection. The peak, which is almost a small hill in the middle of the intersection, decreases visibility.
"As it is, you can't see very far over the peak until you are right up on it," said Sorrentino. "We will raise the profile of the road and smooth out the peak so (drivers) can see farther in the distance."
According to Sorrentino, there haven't been an unusual number of accidents at the intersection but enough to make CDOT pay attention to the intersection.
"We noticed enough accidents to realize there needed to be improvements," said Sorrentino.
According to Sorrentino, delays should be expected during the yearlong construction phase.
"As with any intersection-improvement project, there will be inconveniences, no matter how well it's planned and designed," said Sorrentino. "But we are going to be working very closely with the public to make them aware of any expected delays so they can plan accordingly."
Although construction will be limited to 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to avoid peak traffic hours, if there are any major delays such as lane closures, media releases and letters will be sent to Ballantyne residents to make them aware ahead of time.
Public input has been a vital part of the project's plans. There were two public meetings held, one in 2008 and another in 2009, to get the public's opinions on improvements to the intersection. Another meeting was held at St. Matthews Catholic Church on Tuesday night to discuss the design plans in detail.
"The public has been very supportive of the project," said Bing. "In fact, I don't think we could move fast enough on it."