University City

Prosperity Village road plans worry residents

The land-use plan adopted for neighborhoods near Prosperity Church Road and Interstate 485 calls for two pedestrian-oriented villages with shops and offices emerging along with more homes and other residences.

So residents on Prosperity Ridge Road are questioning the decision to open up their pedestrian-friendly dead-end street and make it one of three busy feeder roads for the Outerbelt’s Prosperity Village interchange.

Traffic volumes, they say, will probably make their road less safe for walkers, runners and for children who play and ride their bicycles up and down the street.

Scot Williams said he would be afraid to let his 8-year-old son cross Prosperity Ridge to get to the swimming pool and park after the road is converted.

“They keep talking about the urban village being attractive for businesses,” Williams said. “Right now the whole area is primarily residential. The urban village is certainly not why we moved here.”

Gov. Bev Perdue pledged in 2009 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, an important artery and 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, expected by December 2014.

Transportation planners decided traditional interchanges would not be adequate. More than 19,000 vehicles a day use Prosperity Ridge Road.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners approved the Prosperity Village plan in March 1999.

Rather than expanding Prosperity Church Road to six lanes, the plan calls for three two-lane roads to carry traffic to and from the interchange.

The three feeder roads are expected to help prevent backups on Prosperity Church Road and other streets surrounding the interchange and improve access to Ridge, Dearmon and Johnston Oehler roads.

“That ends up being the most heavily utilized segment of Prosperity Church Road,” said Stuart Basham, project manager for the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Prosperity Church Road will be realigned and become the western feeder road for the interchange. Loganville Drive will be extended to run through the center of Prosperity Village.

The dead end at Prosperity Ridge Road will be opened and the road extended as the eastern feeder road for the interchange.

Each of the feeders 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.

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

Williams compares the vision for Prosperity Village to that of Birkdale Village in Huntersville. The difference, he said, is that people who bought homes Birkdale knew what to expect.

“When they built Birkdale, the mall was in first,” he said. “The surrounding neighborhoods knew what they were getting into when they bought there.”

Al Gulla, who also lives on Prosperity Ridge Road, believes the neighborhood will become a cut-through area with congestion that could block the flow of traffic through the neighborhood.

He’s especially concerned about slow movement at the north end of the village as the three feeder roads merge into one near Eastfield Road.

That intersection at Prosperity Church and Eastfield roads is already overburdened, Gulla said.

“They’re taking one big mess and making three little messes,” Gulla said of the plan for the feeder roads. “Everything is coming to a head at the top of Prosperity Ridge.”