University City

Change coming along I-485

Many cheered in 2009, when Gov. Bev Perdue pledged to begin construction on the final 5.7-mile leg of Charlotte's Outerbelt in northeast Charlotte four years ahead of the scheduled date in 2015.

That pledge pushed local transportation planners to accelerate their schedule for realigning Prosperity Church Road, a planned connector road for the Prosperity Village interchange.

Other city and state planners also are fine-tuning their plans for accommodating the traffic volumes expected once the interchange opens, around December 2014.

The number of vehicles anticipated at the interchange is so high that planners say it will take more than one feeder road to keep vehicles moving.

The interchange planned for Prosperity Village ultimately is expected to have three feeder roads.

"In order for that interchange to function and not have traffic backed onto Interstate 485 and not have excessive backup on the ramps, we need to have two of the three roads in place," said Stuart Basham, project manager for Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The new alignment of Prosperity Church Road is expected to be one of the most-used street segments in the Prosperity Village area, which extends about a mile on each side of the planned interchange. The area is about 12 miles from uptown.

The new road is also expected to carry traffic between the west leg of I-485 and points in western Cabarrus County.

Once the interchange is completed, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use urban villages are expected to emerge north and south the interstate.

Yet, with 18,000 vehicles a day using Prosperity Church Road, planners recognized traditional interchanges might not be adequate.

Planners decided on a split-diamond design. The three connector roads will tie into the on/off ramp on each side of the interstate. Three roundabouts, or traffic circles, will be added on each ramp at connect the feeder roads.

The feeder roads are the new alignment for Prosperity Church Road; Loganville Drive, which includes part of the existing Prosperity Church Road; and Prosperity Ridge Road.

Each of the connector roads will have a bridge to carry motorists over the interstate. The bridges will be within a quarter mile of each other, creating the framework for a pedestrian-oriented street network that is at the heart of the vision for dense, urban development at Prosperity Village.

Construction has started on Prosperity Ridge Road, which is being built by the city of Charlotte and developers working in the area.

N.C. Department of Transportation will build Loganville Road as a part of the interstate project.

The city of Charlotte is in the early planning phase for the realignment for Prosperity Church Road.

The city has received a $4.8 million federal grant to help pay for construction and some land purchases. City bonds also will be needed to cover some of the costs. The price tag will be calculated in a later phase.

Even those later phases of the project have become a priority for the city with the project's completion date moved forward by years.

"We're not panicking about it," said Matt Magnasco, Street Connectivity Program manager for Charlotte Department of Transportation. "We're diligently moving forward. We want to make sure the road is in place before I-485 opens."