UNC Charlotte has proposed changing the path of John Kirk Drive, hoping to ease traffic congestion and increase access to the university’s East Village.
The proposal will be considered at a meeting next month.
The change would redirect John Kirk Drive from its current route – between Mallard Creek Church Road and N.C. 49 – through campus, intersecting with Cameron Boulevard on campus and continuing on to Van Landingham Road.
“This local traffic is coming off of 49, or coming off of Mallard Creek Church Road to get to campus and to get back out,” said Steve Blakely of Kimley-Horn, a consultant for UNCC. “The turns to get in and out for that majority traffic is creating a lot of delays on John Kirk and on the university. When you take that road and reorient the way it serves traffic to this configuration, it’s so much smoother – it makes it much more efficient.”
The portion of the road that runs from Cameron Boulevard to Van Landingham Road will likely be removed and replaced with grass or shrubbery, according to Blakely.
To reach N.C. 49 from Mallard Creek Church Road once the change is in place, drivers can take John Kirk Drive to Cameron Boulevard to Van Landingham Road, or they can take Mallard Creek Church Road all the way to N.C. 49.
Students and residents in the area shouldn’t be concerned with construction, Blakely said, because the project, expected to take place in 2017, will not result in any road closures.
“You can do it completely out of traffic – you only have to do a short little tie-in,” said Matt Magnasco, street connectivity program manager for the Charlotte Department of Transportation.
The intersection of Cameron Boulevard and John Kirk Drive will be have traffic signals, countdown pedestrian signals, marked crosswalks and bike lanes, similar to the features that will be installed at the intersection of Mary Alexander Road and Cameron Boulevard this fall.
Local residents expressed concern at a July 9 meeting about the current pedestrian crossing at the intersection of John Kirk Drive and Van Landingham Road, recalling an incident at the intersection when a dump truck flipped while trying to avoid hitting a crossing pedestrian.
The new road will include a median at the Van Landingham Road intersection that would give residents a place to stop while crossing the road, rather than walking across the full length of both roads, exposed to passing vehicles.
“You’re going to have a 14- to 15-foot-wide area that would be a refuge for pedestrians who want to cross,” Blakely said. “You’re protected in that zone. The benefits for pedestrians are just as great, if not better than for cars.”
No plans have been made to add a crosswalk signal to the Van Landingham Road intersection, but according to Blakely, that will be assessed once the new route is in place, to possibly be modified at a later time.
The proposal will be considered at an Aug. 19 meeting, and if the project is approved, construction would begin in 2017. The decision will be based on public input and analysis by staff from the Charlotte Department of Transportation and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization.