University City

Growth transforms Johnston Oehler Road

A drive along Johnston Oehler Road is a chance to see Mecklenburg County's past and its future.

Farm animals roam in a field a few doors from the brick and asphalt at Countryside Montessori School, where cars and SUVs parade in and out for the morning and afternoon bells.

Tree have been shaved off close to the ground on both sides of the road as the pavement meets Prosperity Church Road.

The paths for last leg of Interstate 485 and three new interchange roads are cutting through, repainting one more slice of rural life with an urban brush.

And plans are in the works for remaking the rest of Johnston Oehler's winding, scenic, sometimes scary, narrow lanes so that the road is better equipped to handle the traffic the interstate is expected to bring.

"The urgency to develop this project was increased by the pending construction of I-485, as a portion of the existing road requires realignment," Leslie Bing, Engineering & Property Management's project manager, wrote in an email.

The city will have a public meeting Feb. 23 to present the latest design plans, which call for a two- or three-lane road.

The project falls within the the 2006 Transportation Action Plan's Farm-to-Market Program.

The nearly $14.8 million remake for Johnston Oehler Road is one of the 2010 transportation bond projects.

The city approved the design contract in April last year and chose URS Corp. as its engineering consultant.

Construction is expected to start in fall 2013.

Design plans so far call for traffic signals, medians, sidewalks and crosswalks, bicycle lanes and other features over a nearly two-mile area.

The western end of the road will be shifted southward, to connect with Dearmon Road.

The road will be south of and mostly parallel to the Outerbelt.

The road ultimately will become an east-west path across three north-south connector roads for the I-485/Prosperity Village interchange.

The three planned connector roads will be a new alignment for Prosperity Church Road, Loganville Drive and Prosperity Ridge Road.

Johnston Oehler Road will still continue east to Mallard Creek Road.

"The intent of the Johnston Oehler Road Farm-to-Market project is to make use of this new construction as much as possible by tying into the NCDOT work," Bing wrote.