University City

Traffic patterns changing

The N.C. Department of Transportation's upcoming plans for Mallard Creek Road and W.T. Harris Boulevard have some University City area businesses and leaders concerned.

Drivers will no longer be able to make a left turn out of Harris Teeter onto Mallard Creek Road but will have a left turn option into Harris Teeter.

There will also be no left turn allowed onto Old Mallard Creek Road, said Richard Hancock, N.C. DOT engineer.

"I am very concerned with the impact on the side of the street that has Harris Teeter, BB&T, First Citizens and Sun Trust," said Mary Hopper, executive director of University City Partners.

The traffic signal at the intersection of Old Mallard Creek and Mallard Creek roads that is about 600 feet away from W.T. Harris Boulevard will also be eliminated and a median will be installed. This means turning movements will be limited, Hancock said.

Hancock said the reason for the change is because there is not enough room for a left turn lane at the intersection.

Work on Mallard Creek Road is scheduled to be contracted out in July 2012 and will take at least two full construction seasons, Hancock said.

While completion dates have not been established, they are estimated to be finished in late 2014 or early 2015, Hancock said.

"My concern is for those businesses; I do not want businesses to be impacted," Hopper said. "In this economy, you can't afford to negatively impact existing businesses."

University City Partners and the University City YMCA have voiced concerns to the N.C. DOT and Hancock about the upcoming road construction, Hopper said.

She said the University City YMCA is concerned about the large number of its members that come from Mallard Creek Road.

"N.C. DOT is envisioning is you'll turn and drive on W.T. Harris Boulevard," Hopper said. "Well, W.T. Harris Boulevard is congested all the time and to put additional traffic on that seems unwise, even for a block."

To get a sense of traffic flow, Hopper said a staff member at University City Partners also shot video of the intersection and sent it in to the N.C. DOT.

While their concerns were heard and additional analysis was done, Hancock said, the DOT could not delay the project.

"We've met with the YMCA and some folks from the University City Partners and there have been multiple public meetings where individuals have been able to express their concerns, but operationally, we just can't make that happen," Hancock said.

He said the signal at W.T. Harris Boulevard and Mallard Creek Road has to be eliminated because of the volume of traffic at the intersection.

N.C. DOT has also awarded $10.2 million to Blythe Development Co. of Charlotte to make improvements on 34.2 miles of roads in Mecklenburg County.

Included in the contract is a $6.1 million contract issued for resurfacing and shoulder work, and milling on eight roads, covering 20.2 miles.

These projects will begin as early as May 31 and are schedule to be completed by Oct. 31.