Anxious homeowners, curious residents and a few contractors looking for jobs were among the several hundred people who got a firsthand look at plans for the $725 million Monroe Connector-Bypass last week.
Of that group, a typical comment came from Monroe resident Heather Canipe, who arrived at the meeting with her three young kids in tow: "The road's going through my living room. Whatever (the state) is going to do, I want them to make a decision. Being in limbo is hard."
The N.C. Turnpike Authority is identifying properties in the path of the road that the authority needs to acquire for the right-of-way, and firms hired by the state to help with rights-of-way issues attended the meeting. Their work includes planning and assistance for moving businesses and homes, title research, appraisals and negotiations with property owners, and should take about a year to complete.
About 45 businesses and 100 residential sites will need to be relocated to make way for the bypass. The 19.7-mile road is meant to relieve congestion on U.S. 74.
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Representatives from the authority, project designers, contractors and other officials answered residents' questions for several hours at the meeting in the Union County Agricultural Center. Giant maps of the project adorned tables and walls, and animation of what the road will look like played on a video screen.
Several residents from Indian Trail's Bonterra Village subdivision worried that the road's configuration would make it take longer to get out of their neighborhood.
The bypass will start along U.S. 74 near the Mecklenburg County line and Interstate 485, run briefly northeast, then roughly parallel U.S. 74 until it reconnects with the highway west of Marshville.
The road is set to open by December 2015. Drivers would avoid 26 traffic lights on U.S. 74 and shave 17 minutes off their travel time, according to state projections.
Tolls for car drivers would average $2.58-$3.95 for the entire length of the road, or about 13 cents to 20 cents a mile, depending on if they have a pre-paid electronic transponder in their vehicle that is used for toll collections.