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Residents deride 2-lane idea

When Ridgeview resident Dale Hillyard tries to imagine the proposed City Boulevard extension as a two-lane road, visions of Sugar Creek Road dance in his head.

He and others say a two-lane extension road that meets four-lane roads at both ends would lead to bottlenecks like those known to occur on West Sugar Creek Road in Derita, when four lanes narrow to two.

Hillyard said he got signals during a July meeting with the Charlotte Department of Transportation that, ultimately, residents' wishes for a four-lane road might be ignored.

“Two four-lane roads converging into two lanes both ways – what nonsense,” Hillyard wrote in an e-mail to Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess last month.

CDOT wants to build the City Boulevard extension when the state realigns Mallard Creek Road.

Possibly by 2013, Mallard Creek Road would connect with Graham Street at one end and Harris Boulevard at the other. The City Boulevard extension would tie into Mallard Creek Road at Rumple Road.

Together, the projects would help accommodate traffic expected when Wal-Mart, IKEA and other planned developments open nearby.

The project calls for $10.4million in transportation bond money, which voters could be asked to approve in November.

The July design meeting with residents was part of the planning process. CDOT's Mike Davis said then that traffic projections for 2030 suggest that a four-lane extension of City Boulevard would exceed motorists' needs. Davis conceded that the projections did not account for the specific retail projects now planned near the road.

Hillyard said one of the CDOT planners he talked with one-on-one during the session told him the road, when built, would have two lanes. He didn't remember the planner's name.

“This meeting was held only for the fact that they could say, ‘We sought public input,'” Hillyard said Wednesday. “They've already made up their minds what they want to do. It was all for show.”

Residents in the Great Oaks subdivision contacted last week also expressed concern.

“If you've ever tried to travel across Sugar Creek (Road) in the afternoon, it's a nightmare,” said Kenneth Davis, treasurer of the Great Oaks Homeowners Association. “We don't want to see that repeated.”

Ridgeview resident Marcia Kaupish said she hopes CDOT will plan ahead to meet increasing traffic rather than come back later with a plan to correct traffic problems. “With the new Wal-Mart plus IKEA plus other businesses, it's going to be a madhouse,” Kaupish said.

The project is in the early planning stages, Mark Cole, engineering project manager with CDOT, said Friday. The staff plans a thorough analysis to determine the effects that IKEA, Wal-Mart and other factors could have on traffic.

“We've got preliminary analysis that leans us in the direction of a two- to three-lane road,” Cole said. “That could definitely change when we take a look at it.”

Cole said CDOT would present details about its proposal in a public meeting in late fall or early winter.