Construction work on the Mallard Creek Road realignment is set to start at the beginning of March, but officials said it will likely be early to mid-summer before residents and traffic in University City are affected.
After years of planning, permitting and right-of-way and property acquisitions, crews will begin working on the state-funded project early next month as weather conditions allow, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The scope of work includes creating a new four-lane road segment – the Graham Street extension –from the intersection of North Graham Street at West Sugar Creek Road through a largely residential area, said Rick Pruitte, the project’s assistant resident engineer.
The extension, which will connect with the City Boulevard extension project, will join Mallard Creek Road near Morris Estate and Mallard Park Drives, he said.
Heading east from there, Mallard Creek Road will be widened to a four-lane divided roadway with sidewalks, bike lanes, curbs and gutters, and portions of raised concrete medians until it reaches W.T. Harris Boulevard, said Jennifer Thompson, an N.C. DOT spokeswoman.
The project will cover just under 3 miles, she said, adding the primary goal is to help move traffic and be more accommodating to pedestrians and cyclists.
“It’s a pretty busy area; it’s really developing and growing quickly,” Thompson said. “There are a lot of apartments, condos and single homes along that corridor. (Mallard Creek Road) is two lanes right now, and it gets very busy.”
The project will also include concrete “turnouts,” Pruitte said, which will allow Charlotte Area Transit System buses to leave travel lanes to stop for passengers. Pruitte estimated there will be at least a half-dozen turnouts in each direction, some of which will also include bus shelters and areas to park and lock up bikes.
The $25.4 million construction project was awarded in December 2013 to Blythe Development Co., Thompson said. The initial phase of work will include brush clearing, removing large trees and roots, and building erosion controls along the path of the Graham Street extension, Pruitte said.
The tentative construction schedule indicates the new extension will likely be the first area of focus, Pruitte said, though the contractor can work on whichever portion of the project the company decides, as long as N.C. DOT gives prior approval.
While work centers around the new extension, area traffic won’t feel much of an impact, Pruitte said. But once the widening of Mallard Creek Road begins, the area could see additional congestion.
Existing lanes will be narrowed or closed as needed, Pruitte said, but N.C. DOT has time restrictions in place that prevent that type of work during peak traffic hours.
The portion of Mallard Creek Road to be widened facilitates mainly residential traffic, Pruitte said, but there are shopping centers and businesses at both intersections that mark the project’s start and end points. However, officials don’t anticipate business access will be hurt by the project.
The completion date for the entire project is April 30, 2017, Thompson said, but she noted it could end sooner. “There’s a six-month window where the contractor re-establishes vegetation affected by the project,” she said. “They could finish before the end of 2016 and use those last few months for landscaping.”