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Oakdale Road residents ready for street changes

City planners say improvements are coming to Oakdale Road in northwest Charlotte.

Area residents say those improvements can't come fast enough.

Planners outlined some of the proposals to a group of residents at a Transportation Summit meeting last month, saying a meeting is likely this month to begin planning on the Oakdale Road Farm-to-Market Project.

Farm-to-Market is a program being done on three Charlotte streets – Oakdale Road, Robinson Church Road in northeast Charlotte, and Community House Road near Ballantyne – to add improvements on roads that in the past connected the city with rural areas. Those roads now are mostly urban.

Improvements can include installing bicycle lanes, sidewalks, medians and traffic signals.

“There won't be any improvements that encourage travel at higher speed,” said Veronica Wallace, a city transportation planner.

Most areas of Oakdale Road currently are 35 mph.

The first public meeting would allow residents to make suggestions on what types of improvements they would like to see. A second meeting, several months later, could finalize those preferences. But it could be a few years before work begins.

Some residents say they wish the work could happen now.

Alden Hare, who lives in the Coulwood area, said a traffic signal is needed now at Oakdale Road and Brookshire Boulevard.

That intersection currently has a yellow blinking light, and it has been identified by city transportation planners as being in need of improvements.

“I'm a former school bus driver, and I'm telling you that there's going to be a school bus accident there eventually,” Hare said. “I drove all over this county, and that's one of the worst intersections.

“Buses trying to turn southbound on Brookshire have to cross a lot of fast-moving traffic.”

Wallace said a traffic signal at that intersection almost certainly would be part of the Farm-to-Market project.

What will not be a part of the Oakdale Road project is construction of an interchange at the soon-to-be-finished extension of Interstate 485. State transportation officials say no interchange currently is planned at Oakdale Road.

Some northwest Charlotte residents, such as Overlook Homeowners Association President Tom Blomquist, say an interchange will be needed there, to lessen the traffic on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road and at the I-485 interchange with Brookshire Boulevard.

But state DOT project manager Aldie Whitmore said the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization – a group of elected officials that sets priorities for transportation projects in the two counties – has not included that project on its list.

He said area residents will have to lobby MUMPO, much as was the case in Mint Hill, when no interchange was built initially on I-485 at N.C. 51.

Mint Hill town commissioners eventually convinced MUMPO to get funding for the project, and the interchange was built.