Around Town

Tyvola-Fairview-Sardis-Rama-Idlewild: Charlotte’s most hellish stretch of road

[Note: An earlier version of this story included Woodlawn in this stretch of road, which is clearly wrong. We apologize for associating Woodlawn with this hellish stretch.]

For two weekends a year, the roads around Charlotte Motor Speedway can legitimately lay claim to the gnarliest, nastiest traffic in the QC.

For the other 361 days, however, I believe that distinction belongs to Tyvola-Fairview-Sardis-Rama-Idlewild Road.

This one contiguous stretch of asphalt running west/east from Billy Graham to Independence Road and beyond is the single most hellish navigation route ever encountered since the Donner party left for California more than a century ago.

Merely eight miles long, this stretch of road is filled with fender clipping, left-lane-right-turning, drivers ed. drop-outs perilously skirting through the five scariest intersections in the city.

For the un-initiated, a safety primer is in order. From east to west, here are my top five worst intersections and the drivers you’ll likely encounter at each:

(1) Westbound Tyvola Rd. @ I-77 interchange.

Not only should the designers of this traffic nightmare have a special place in hell, it should be equipped with continually exploding airbags. As an extra special treat when you’re late for the airport, lookout for the off-rampers running the red light off I-77 into your lane as you try to make your plane.

(2) Eastbound Tyvola Rd. @ South Blvd.

South Blvd. is Charlotte’s automotive equivalent to Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. Wild beasts — cars in this case — going in every direction with no sense of anything or anyone else but themselves.

A special shout out to those SMSDVs (Sloooow Moving Senior Driven Vehicles) taking three lights to turn left onto South while the trail of cars behind them extends to Fort Mill.

(3) Eastbound Fairview Rd. @ Providence Rd.

The mother of all Charlotte intersections. Some 75,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection. While many Charlotteans may believe the purgatorial nexus of the city’s traffic universe is the intersection of Queens and Queens, they have not spend 1/5th of their 14 years in Charlotte waiting for the double left turn lane from Fairview onto Providence like I have.


Thanks to the ubiquitous driver who stops immediately upon clearing the intersection to debate whether or not he needs gas at the station on the right. My body shop thanks you too.

(4) East or Westbound Sardis Rd @ Rama.

After a decade and a half of living here I still don’t know which one is Sardis and which one is Rama. I hate this intersection in the mornings, especially school days when Providence Day School (NOT on Providence btw) is in session. Watch out for the on-the-phone soccer moms and their big a** vans here.

(5) Westbound Idlewild Rd. @ Independence Blvd.

Yes, we’ve gotten a reprieve from navigating this stalwart time-sucker while they redo Indy Blvd., but it is sooo very sucky it gets my honorable mention. CATS busses here get my vote for slowest moving land mammals to be on the lookout for.

Related: Red light rage: the 5 worst un-synched streets in Charlotte.

Photos: Corey Inscoe

Michael Solender @mjsolender