There is hope for Mooresville motorists resigned to waiting in rush-hour traffic on a busy stretch of Williamson Road.
Plans are underway to widen the often-congested thoroughfare to four lanes between the intersections of N.C. 150 and Brawley School Road. In addition, sidewalks are planned along its southbound lane, as well as additional ones along its northbound lane.
Congestion will likely persist at those intersections for at least the next couple of years, however. Roadwork is not expected to begin until late 2016 and would take about a year to finish, said Kelsie Anderson, the town’s transportation engineer.
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Smoothing traffic flow in that corridor has remained a focal point for the town, which has added turn lanes there amid increasing development in recent years. Stretching a little less than a mile, the road has its fair share of businesses.
But even though Mooresville requires developers to make road improvements to accommodate increased traffic, development throughout the town appears to have outpaced its own improvements to its transportation infrastructure.
“Any place that grows this fast, there’s always going to be a lag,” Mooresville senior engineer Allison Kraft said.
The widening project is expected to cost $1.2 million, including a contract worth about $287,000 that town leaders awarded to an engineering firm at a meeting this month.
The Charlotte-based firm, American Engineering, is beginning the design process and expects to finish it by the end of the year, project manager Chris Johnson said. The project will involve an environmental assessment and utility relocation, although he noted that right-of-way acquisition is not expected.
To pay for it, the town will turn to a $20 million general obligation bond for transportation improvements that voters approved in a referendum last spring. In a separate referendum, voters approved a $10 million bond for recreation improvements, including to the town-owned golf course.
The town issued half of that $20 million bond this year, with the money going toward road improvements over the next two years.
This is not the first time the town has borrowed money for public improvements.
In 2009, it issued $15.5 million in bonds, much of it for recreation improvements but also for street projects downtown. Two years before that, the town issued bonds totaling $17.5 million, much of it also for recreation improvements.
The planned widening of Williamson comes years before the N.C. Department of Transportation is expected to widen the road more extensively as part of a statewide improvement program it plans to carry out over the next 10 years.
That project, which is not scheduled to begin until 2022, is expected to cost about $4.7 million and would involve turning it into a divided four-lane road between its intersections with N.C. 150 and Interstate 77, at Exit 33. Turn lanes are also planned along that three-mile stretch.
It is among the first in a series of road improvements the town plans to carry out in two phases.
The first phase involves eight projects and is expected to take about two years to complete, Kraft said. They include a new road connecting Cornelius and Mazeppa roads that is under construction, sidewalks along Patterson Avenue and left-turn lanes at Main and Statesville roads.
The number of projects that will comprise the second phase remains undetermined.
The road improvements are part of a comprehensive transportation plan the town developed along with its land-use plan and adopted in 2008. In addition to road improvements, its focal points include public transit and improving accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians.
Based on input from residents, business owners and an advisory committee, the plan is meant to help the town accommodate future growth.
“Transportation and congestion is always at the top of the list,“ Kraft said, citing surveys conducted by the town over the years.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.