Mooresville is planning to improve an intersection along a residential road just outside of downtown, preparing for the arrival of a Walmart grocery store nearby that is expected to significantly increase traffic in the area.
Aiming to reduce delays and smooth traffic flow at the intersection of East Iredell Avenue and Culp Street, the town has agreed to build left- and right-turn lanes on Culp and remove part of a brick wall around a residential property at one corner to make the turn there less sharp.
The intersection will also see a traffic signal as part of an agreement with the real estate arm of Walmart that commissioners approved last month.
The nation’s largest grocery retailer plans to build a Neighborhood Market and a gas station on vacant land about a half-mile southeast, at the intersection of East Iredell, Harris Crossing Boulevard and Center Avenue. The grocery would encompass only a fraction of the size of a supercenter it runs about 5 miles to the east, at Exit 36 off of Interstate 77.
To lessen the impact of increased traffic, the retailer has agreed to pay for improvements at that three-way intersection: additional turn lanes on East Iredell and a traffic signal.
It is unclear when the grocery might open; the retailer has given no time frame for the project, town senior engineer Allison Kraft said. But she noted that in order to receive a certificate of occupancy – the final part of the approval process for the development – it is obligated to finish the improvements at the three-way intersection.
At the Iredell-Culp intersection, the improvements are expected to cost more than $100,000, a little more than half of which accounts for the traffic signal Walmart has agreed to pay for.
The town will pay for the remainder to address the existing issues there, using money it set aside in its proposed 2015-16 budget that commissioners could approve at a meeting on June 15. In addition to construction, the town’s share would cover right-of-way acquisition.
Asked whether those improvements are expected to finish before the grocery opens, Kraft said that while it is not required, “that’s absolutely our goal.”
The planned improvements were identified in a traffic impact study of the vicinity that was completed early this year. The $25,000 study was funded by Walmart and reviewed by the state Department of Transportation. Such studies are required by the town for developments that would generate a significant increase in traffic.
The improvement are in the design phase, and the planned traffic signals on Iredell Avenue, or N.C. 3, are under review by the DOT. They are expected to receive approval by September, Kraft said, after which the town would start a bidding process for the improvements at the Iredell-Culp intersection.
The improvements are taking shape as the town’s transportation department is planning to upgrade other roads throughout town, using a $20 million general obligation bond issue for transportation improvements that voters approved in a referendum last year.
“There’s a lot of locations” the town has designated for road improvements, Kraft said.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org