More than two years after Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s pickup truck flipped over in December 2014, the intersection where he and another motorist collided is in line for a new signal and pedestrian improvements.
It’s part of the development planned for the former Charlotte Observer site. Charlotte-based Lincoln Harris and Goldman Sachs bought the nearly 10-acre property for $37.5 million, and have since torn down the Observer building and other structures.
As part of their plans to redevelop the property, Goldman Sachs and Lincoln Harris have agreed to fully fund a new traffic signal and push-button activated pedestrian signals at Church Street and West Hill Street. Charlotte City Council was set to accept the funding for the new traffic signal on their consent agenda Monday night.
The cost of the new signals: $141,582. According to City Council’s agenda, the traffic signals will help “mitigate traffic impacts around their respective development projects.” Developers are often required to pay for roads, turn lanes, intersection and other transportation infrastructure upgrades around their sites.
In the first phase of their development, Lincoln Harris has filed plans to build a 30-story, 1 million square-foot office tower near the corner of Church and Hill, east of Church Street. Construction crews are already at work drilling, clearing and grading the site. The company hasn’t said what it plans to do with the rest of the site, but preliminary plans indicate it will develop a large, mixed-use project at the prime location.
After Newton’s rollover crash, the city took some steps to improve the intersection, such as repainting lines on the streets, installing a new warning sign on Church Street, and putting in a new “oversized” stop sign on West Hill Street, as well as a second sign to alert motorists that a stop sign is near. The oddly angled intersection has long been one of the city’s most crash-prone. (And it’s a location well-remembered by Observer journalists, who regularly scrambled across Church Street to the newsroom from our former parking deck.)
West Hill Street feeds traffic onto an Interstate 277 on-ramp and doesn’t intersect Church Street at a right angle. That can make it difficult for motorists to see oncoming traffic down one-way Church Street.
After the Dec. 9, 2014, wreck, in which he fractured two bones in his back, Newton criticized the intersection.
“There’s not a light there,” Newton said. “I believe there should be a light there because it’s an extreme safety hazard. … I hope that the city of Charlotte or Mecklenburg County does something about that intersection right there. It’s extremely dangerous and I would love to see something to take place right there.”