Construction on the widening of Old Monroe Road in Union County could begin in 2017.
N.C. Department of Transportation Division Engineer Barry Moose said this week that the project has been placed on a draft list of department projects with $32million allocated for it.
"That's an indication that we are going to try to move forward," Moose said.
The road will be widened between Interstate 485 in Matthews and Indian Trail Road. Funding is not available for the rest of the project, which would widen the road from West John Street in Matthews to Wesley Chapel Stouts Road in Indian Trail.
The progress on the Old Monroe Road project ends years of discussion between the N.C. DOT and the towns of Stallings and Indian Trail over how to use millions of dollars originally aimed at widening Stallings Road and Indian Trail Road.
Town leaders first said they didn't want the roads widened because it would destroy their downtowns. They later discussed building a new road between U.S. 74 and Old Monroe Road, but Indian Trail leaders decided not to support that idea.
The towns recently agreed instead on widening Old Monroe Road, which has long been identified as having significant traffic problems.
"I'm glad to see that we have come to a mutual, compatible solution that everybody, I think, is content with," Moose said. "Whatever we did, I wanted it to solve the situation."
Moose said N.C. DOT recently ranked the projectOld Monroe Road widening second on its priority list of sub-regional projects in North Carolina.
"That gives you and indication of the need for the project," Moose said. "Anybody who uses Monroe Road realizes the traffic that's on it," Moose said.
Old Monroe Road is a key commuter road that carries hundreds of drivers into Mecklenburg County. The road already is wider in Mecklenburg County and in part of Monroe. However, it narrows to two lanes at the Mecklenburg-Union border and is constantly crowded with traffic.
Plans and cost for the widening are yet to be determined. Moose said he would be willing to add a little more state money if estimates exceed $32million.
While some feasibility studies have shown the road needs to be widened to six lanes in some places, Moose said the road likely will be widened to four lanes with a 23-foot median similar to the recent Providence Road widening in Weddington.