South Charlotte

Seeking another way: In search of alternative transportation

It doesn't take a soothsayer to predict that, in the suburbs of Charlotte, we will need alternative transportation.

That's why last Sunday's article in “The Big Picture” section of The Observer had an especially significant message for Union and York counties. The headline said, “Region's Options: Sprawl or expand transit.”

The article looked at why expanded mass transit is probably our best option as we move deeper into this century. It pointed to Atlanta, and its I-285 loop, as something we don't want to become. The loop is a car-laden, smog-producing mess that links many Atlanta suburbs.

We could become that.

Tens of thousands of suburban commuters make the trek into Charlotte every day. The county lines that separate Mecklenburg from Union and York are only a formality. The borders have little to do with the way people in the suburbs live their lives. Therefore, planning mass transit shouldn't be limited by county lines.

Mecklenburg County has fired the first shot. Charlotte Area Transit System has buses that go to Fort Mill and Rock Hill (in South Carolina), Ballantyne (on the Union County border), and into Monroe.

Now, the article said, it's time for suburban counties to move past the talking phase of planning.

I live in the Union County suburbs, and will write from time to time about transportation and commuter issues.

One day last week, there appeared to be no easy car route west out of Union. U.S. 74 was blocked for road construction; Monroe Road was moving at a snail's pace.

Mass transportation would be an alternative. Do the governments have the will to make it happen?

Monroe Bypass/Connector

Stallings has reversed its stance on one proposed route for the planned Monroe Bypass/Connector.

Town officials had opposed putting the road near the school and neighborhoods. Then they learned an alternate route would create a raised roadbed for U.S. 74, built on a 20-plus-foot-tall earth wall through the middle of town. A lot of people in Stallings don't find either route acceptable.

Stallings roads

The town of Stallings plans to repair some of its worst streets.

The council has paid for studies and has long discussed roads in Stallings and who should oversee their maintenance. Town Council member Renee Hartis said this week that it was time to take action.

“We seem to do a lot of studies and then we don't end up doing anything to the roads.”

The council voted 4-1 to pay for the road repairs, which town engineer M.J. Namin estimated could cost $1.3 million. Five of the 14 roads are in the Hunley Ridge subdivision.

Town Manager Brian Matthews said the town now has about $900,000 in Powell Bill funds, money allocated by the N.C. DOT for work on town-owned streets, that could go toward the repairs. Some town council members also talked about paying for repairs from the town's savings.

Matthews said the repair project could begin later this fall or in the spring.

The roads to be repaired are: Olde Stone Lane; Homewood Way; Mill Pace Lane; Hunley Ridge Road A; Burnt Mill Road; Hillwood Court; Lakewood Drive; Mill House Lane; Millwright Lane; Willow Brook Drive; Greenbriar Road; Bent Oak Drive; Spring Hill Road; Hunley Ridge Road B.

Special correspondent Marty Minchin contributed to this story.