For the past 15 years, UNC Charlotte has added up to 1,000 students annually, but campus roads and trails have not kept up with the growth.
With more than 28,000 students expected this fall, the university has started several projects to ease traffic throughout campus and make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities.
“In many cases our infrastructure – roads, pedestrian paths, bikeways, traffic signals – have not kept pace with this growth,” said Phil Jones, vice chancellor of UNC Charlotte’s Facilities Management Department, which will oversee the construction projects.
“The same could be said for University City overall. These project will help us catch up to that growth.”
Because the start and finish dates for these projects overlap, increased traffic congestion is likely in the coming weeks, but university officials expect most of the projects to be completed by mid-August.
The projects are being funded using federal, state, city and university funds.
One of the more notable projects is improvements to the Cameron Boulevard and N.C. 49/University City Boulevard intersection.
Also known as the campus’ south entrance, the intersection will get a new traffic signal, turn lanes and crosswalks. When complete, traffic leaving campus will have two left-turn lanes, with signals, onto N.C. 49/University City Boulevard.
Traffic on N.C. 49 also will have turn lanes with signals onto campus and into the nearby office park. Access to Cameron Boulevard from N.C. 49 will remain throughout construction, but intermittent lane closures are expected.
The university will widen Cameron Boulevard to Alumni Way and add a median, sidewalk and bike lane.
Construction will continue on a new intersection, where Phillips Road meets Cameron Boulevard near the university’s tennis complex, and a traffic signal is planned along with a widened roadway, bike lanes and ADA-compliant pathways to the tennis courts.
The university’s W.T. Harris Boulevard entrance at Alumni Way will add a left turn lane for traffic to enter campus.
Craver Road, near Cameron Boulevard, will get two bus stops along with sidewalk improvements and bike lanes. The Mary Alexander Boulevard corridor also will get a traffic signal, two bus stops, sidewalk improvements and bike lanes.
While construction on campus has been a constant during the past 15 years, Jones said the current improvement projects are simply more visible.
“When completed, all of these projects will improve traffic flow and travel times within the university area and make driving, biking and pedestrian travel much safer,” Jones said.
Greg Phipps, who represents District 4, which includes University City, on the Charlotte City Council, called these projects worthy.
“The city has been working closely with UNCC and has entered into mutually beneficial partnerships to share the cost of road improvements…,” Phipps said. “…We’re always looking for ways to enhance walk-ability and bike-ability given the growth of the university, and the desire of the greater community to become less car centric.”
Jordan Baker, a communications officer at N.C. Department of Transportation, said traffic counts have increased steadily over the years.
W.T. Harris Boulevard, south of U.S. 29/North Tryon Street near the Alumni Way entrance, sees an average of 52,000 vehicles per day, while N.C. 49 – where an existing entrance is being upgraded – sees from 31,000 to 41,000 vehicles per day.
“To our knowledge, this is the fist time construction has been at this level around the university area,” Baker said. “…these improvements reflect the need to improve connectivity, traffic flow and congestion in the area.”
For updated construction information, visit: http://bit.ly/UCityConstructionUpdates.