A new traffic signal on N.C. 49 should be up before school starts at the new Palisades Park Elementary School.
North Carolina Department of Transportation is in charge of the highway at the new school, which is on scheduled for its opening Aug. 25. The state department asked Charlotte Department of Transportation to install a light at the school’s main entrance at the intersection of N.C. 49 and McDowell Parkway.
“There is a traffic signal going in there,” said Linda Durrett, spokeswoman for CDOT. “It is scheduled to be operational before school starts.”
Jen Thompson with the state DOT said her department only maintains the highway.
“The school is actually paying for it,” she said.
The $85,775 signal should be installed by Aug. 22. This time a year ago, traffic studies indicated a signal wouldn’t be needed, but new traffic figures show it is. The money comes from the more than $17 million budget for the school.
Palisades Park was built to relieve overcrowding at Lake Wylie and Winget Park elementary schools. It will have 39 classrooms. Walking trails and playground equipment are part of a partnership with the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department.
N.C. 49 has a speed limit of 55 miles per hour in front of the school and that shouldn’t change, officials said. In the mornings, the Charlotte-bound side of the highway nearest the school sees more traffic than the lane coming toward Buster Boyd Bridge.
Much of the incoming school traffic will turn into the school from the right, as The Palisades and RiverPointe make up most the school’s attendance area.
The only large residential area that would bring left-turning traffic is a wedge north of N.C. 49 and east of Shopton Road West, capped on the northeast by Waterlyn Drive and Steelecroft Parkway. Some homes from the Pleasant Hill Road area would come in from the left, too.
“If the traffic signal isn’t in place, the CMS safety department will request an off-duty traffic officer from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to be placed in the area,” said Stacy Sneed, spokeswoman for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
The school signal is the latest traffic upgrade in the Steele Creek area.
In April, Charlotte City Council approved using more than $170,000 from private developer RiverGate Expansion, LLC for traffic signal improvements at N.C. 49 and RiverGate Parkway, and at Walker Branch Drive and Hamilton Road intersections of N.C. 160.
In February, council members approved a contract at more than $668,000 with Whiting Construction Co. for traffic signals and a fiber optic system on Dixie River Road. New traffic signals and cameras now line three Dixie River intersections near Charlotte Premium Outlets, along with one at Shopton Road and New Fashion Way.