South Charlotte

2 towns agree on Route 18A for Monroe bypass

The towns of Indian Trail and Stallings voiced support this week for proposed Route 18A of the Monroe Bypass/Connector, the first time the two towns have agreed on the issue.

The Stallings Town Council made a dramatic flip-flop Monday, voting 4-1 to abandon its five-year opposition to 18A, which would come close to several Stallings neighborhoods and the new Stallings Elementary School.

The Indian Trail Town Council, which met on Tuesday, followed suit by voting unanimously to support 18A. Indian Trail previously had only voiced opposition to the other proposed route, Route 2.

“(We) concentrated on why we didn't want Route 2 and did not endorse the other route,” said Indian Trail Town Council member Dan Schallenkamp. Route 2 cuts through part of Indian Trail's Old Hickory Business Park.

The change of heart in Stallings came after the N.C. Turnpike Authority recently unveiled new plans for Route 2, which would join U.S. 74 in Indian Trail.

The new design would raise U.S. 74 on a 20-to-25-foot-high earth wall through Stallings. Some residents have begun calling it “The Great Wall of Stallings.”

On Monday, residents packed a Turnpike Authority presentation on the designs in Stallings, and some walked over to the Stallings town council meeting afterward to express their support for 18A.

Todd McGee, vice president of McGee Corporation, attended the council meeting with two of his brothers, wearing a “Support 18A” button. He told the council that his business, which has been in Union County since 1961 and is now on U.S. 74 in Stallings, would have to relocate if Route 2 is built.

Not all Stallings residents and officials have changed their minds on 18A. Mayor Lynda Paxton urged the town to delay a vote on its stance on 18A.

Paxton said that, even though businesses would be wiped out along U.S. 74 if Route 2 were built, the corridor would redevelop. She also said that many had just seen the proposed changes to Route 2.

“I think people need time to digest the information they heard tonight,” she said.

Stallings council members Barbara Anne Price, Al Graham and Thelma Privette voted in favor of the 18A route.

Council member Renee Hartis, saying she had just received the information and couldn't make up her mind, abstained. Council Member Wyatt Dunn voted against 18A, and Mark Franza did not attend.

Officials from the Turnpike Authority, which will make a final decision on whether to recommend 18A or 2 in December, are still working on designs for the routes. The plan is for work to start sometime in 2009 and the road to open in five years.