Charlotte to improve I-277 underpasses

The Interstate 277 loop is great for cars, but lousy for pedestrians getting from uptown to surrounding neighborhoods.

To ease the trip, the city of Charlotte will spend $480,000 to improve the underpasses at I-277 and South McDowell Street; East Third Street; East Fourth Street; and West Fourth Street. The city will install wider sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, decorative retaining walls and some historical plaques.

As uptown and nearby neighborhoods such as Dilworth and Wesley Heights become more intertwined, the idea is to encourage more people to walk and ride bikes.

There are 38 crossings of the I-277 loop, said Vivian Coleman of the Charlotte Department of Transportation. Center City Partners, in its 2020 Vision Plan for uptown, endorsed the idea of making the underpasses and overpasses more pedestrian-friendly.

“There is a need to continue to go around the loop (with improvements),” she said.

The City Council approved the contract with Carolina Cajun Concrete Monday night. The four projects are expected to be finished in early 2015.

The improvements are funded through proceeds from past bond referendums.

“We are nearing the end of the program (in terms of funding),” Coleman said.

The South McDowell Street underpass will have plaques to commemorate the Brooklyn and Dilworth neighborhoods.