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Traffic Congestion and Highway Construction


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Some new pics were posted of the I-77 toll project. Also, a newsletter update was posted. Pics: https://www.i77express.com/gallery/i-77-express-construction-works-april-2019/ Newsletter: htt

The darkness on highways/interchanges around Uptown is a bigger pet peeve for me vs. buildings lining the highway. 

I meant to mention this the other day last week sometime the new on ramp flyover from 277 to 77 south opened. 

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I-77 in south Charlotte would likely be an Independence-like rebuild--actually worse. The long range plan is for 8-10 lanes *plus* HOV lanes from I-85 south to 485. As Otto said, it's a total rebuild that would wipe out everything within ~50 feet on both sides including most of the bridges. It's easily a $1-1.5B project (and rising) to build the entire length to 485 at the SC line. We are a LONG WAY from that happening at the current time.

In the short term, planners think that there will be some relief on I-77 when 485 is completed up to I-77 north, near Huntersville. That will direct long distance, regional through and truck traffic onto 485, providing a full western bypass of Charlotte. We saw this exact thing occur when southern 485 was completed from Independence over to I-85 near Wilkinson. After that leg was complete, about 10-15k cars were diverted from Independence over to 485.

As we've discussed before, eventually, local development will probably eat up all the benefits of 485 as an interstate bypass (as we've seen on the southern leg... Ballantyne, etc) and we'll be right back to square one in 10-15 years... but I digress.

If they changed the funding formula in a way that would benefit the urban areas, would this be able to happen sooner? For now, I am just glad they are re-paving it (hopefully the on/off ramps too). The road has been in bad shape for years. In a way, this might be a good thing - it could help stop sprawl and boost ridership on the rail line.

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In a way, this might be a good thing - it could help stop sprawl and boost ridership on the rail line.

I would like to think you're right. But traffic congestion alone doesn't seem to deter sprawl around here. I-77 north of Exit 23 won't be widened in the foreseeable future and is already a parking lot much of the day. It is a rare morning or afternoon these days that I don't read on Charlotte.com about another accident that has slowed or stopped traffic on the northern stretch of I-77. But the development of northern Mecklenburg / Lake Norman continues unabated and the suburban nightmare known as Mooresville just keeps exploding. Apparently these folks are quite content to sit in traffic jams every day on their way to and from work (or anywhere else, for that matter) as long as they can have their suburban existence. While there is no one single cause and no one single solution, to me it is a huge problem that there is little to no regional cooperation where planning and growth controls are concerned - and no real incentive for local governments to do anything to change current development patterns.

I would LOVE to see I-77 widened in northern Meck and southern Iredell, as well as from I-485 to the SC line. But like Chief JoJo said above, in a few years, the roads are just going to fill right back up.

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In the short term, planners think that there will be some relief on I-77 when 485 is completed up to I-77 north, near Huntersville. That will direct long distance, regional through and truck traffic onto 485, providing a full western bypass of Charlotte. We saw this exact thing occur when southern 485 was completed from Independence over to I-85 near Wilkinson. After that leg was complete, about 10-15k cars were diverted from Independence over to 485.

But don't you think that will only be the case for southbound 77? On the northbound stretch, there will be traffic from the eastern and western legs of I-485 dumping onto a narrow and inadequte I-77, along with the traffic already traveling north on the interstate. That segment backs up on a regular basis because of the narrowing of the road, so I can only imagine what it will be like once you start pouring northbound trafficed onto it from I485.

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If they changed the funding formula in a way that would benefit the urban areas, would this be able to happen sooner? For now, I am just glad they are re-paving it (hopefully the on/off ramps too). The road has been in bad shape for years. In a way, this might be a good thing - it could help stop sprawl and boost ridership on the rail line.

Even with a changing of the funding formula, it is unlikely that the Charlotte Metro will see and additional $1.5B. That is truly wishful thinking at best. Charlotte would definitely see an increase in funds. HOwever, Charlotteans must realize that despite the current funding formula, to my knowledge the I-485 projects have all been paid for with loop money which is in addition to the current Mecklenburg County allotment. Also, there are two remaining funded TIP Projects (R-2248E and R-2123CE) that are being paid for by loop money.

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So ChiefJoJo do you know what's the most recent vehicle count on I-77 South and Independence?

If you mean [email protected], it's 161,000.

If they changed the funding formula in a way that would benefit the urban areas, would this be able to happen sooner? For now, I am just glad they are re-paving it (hopefully the on/off ramps too). The road has been in bad shape for years. In a way, this might be a good thing - it could help stop sprawl and boost ridership on the rail line.

I would forget about altering the funding formula. It's a political stalemate. The only viable funding solution IMO will be:

  • more locally generated revenue (county sales tax, real estate transfer fees)--must be granted authority by legislature
  • toll roads (built with majority revenue from user fees)
  • HOV/HOT lanes (where specific lanes are utilized for multiple occupant vehicles, buses, or a pricing strategy where depending on time of day and congestion, prices rise or fall in a particular lane... pay to play.)

I think all of these strategies make a lot of sense, and are being seriously discussed now, and it may take all of them along with the transit plan to deal with growth and congestion.

But don't you think that will only be the case for southbound 77? On the northbound stretch, there will be traffic from the eastern and western legs of I-485 dumping onto a narrow and inadequte I-77, along with the traffic already traveling north on the interstate. That segment backs up on a regular basis because of the narrowing of the road, so I can only imagine what it will be like once you start pouring northbound trafficed onto it from I485.

I was refering to the question asked, which was I-77 south from Uptown--not north Meck. I-77N is going to continue to be a huge problem, especially with the pace of growth up there. I'm telling you right now, there is no money for 77 north, and there won't be for years (unless something drastic occurs), so with all of these developments (aside from Bryton and other TODs) coming, you can bet it's going to get worse real quick. I have no idea why more folks in S Iredell (& Davidson for that matter) aren't complaining about the pace of growth because for every Langtree, your going to add a ton of cars and no short term plan to deal with them.

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A great editorial on CATS and their cost effectiveness today at Charlotte.com at "Myth-busting: CATS compares well with other cities" where the author shows that CATS and the light rail construction is doing quite well compared to other cities. She also references a very thorough study by Edd Hauser, the founding director of UNC Charlotte's Center for Transportation Policy Studies, which you can find at "ANALYSIS OF CATS TRANSIT OPERATIONS AND THE SOUTH CORRIDOR LRT".

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^I read the link that Mary is referring to and I think that report is yet another one where the author had a pre-determined outcome then generated the percentages from certain numbers to prove it. For example he says the CATS costs are 108% over estimates when he doesn't say which of the number of cost projections that CATS provided for this project. It's actually almost 60% higher than the first projection which was the one approved by the MTC. That is not a very good track record using even his measuring stick as a guage. (the airport)

Mary should know better. I am not against the transit system, but attempts to gloss over CATS failures when the people deserve better, are irresponsible.

BTW, I assume you meant this for the transit topic instead of this highway topic.

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The following is regarding I-485 on the south side of town, eastbound from 77, during afternoon/evening rush.

I leave the Uptown between 3:30pm and 4pm each day (taking 77 to 485 to Johnston), so I get to see this congestion at all stages of development. But usually, I see it more toward the beginning, *not* at the full backup from 51 to the flyover at 77.

It seems to me the congestion isn't so much the narrowing from 3 lanes to 2 (at the South Blvd interchange); rather, it seems like it is the tiny area that is the entrance ramp from South Blvd and the first exit ramp at 51.

I know another lane for 485 in this area is planned far in the future (and I'm betting it magically happens sooner than that), but I'm thinking that's just a band-aid, giving a little more room to get around a bad entry/exit point.

I don't know that I really have a good solution. My first thought would be to get rid of the entry ramp from South Blvd onto 485. Also, instead of having the right-most lane of 485 become exit-only at the second South Blvd exit, I would extend that lane to the first exit at 51. I'm no engineer (obviously), but it seems like that would help greatly, and would be really easy and cheap to implement.

Of course, then there would be no way to get from South Blvd to 485 eastbound. I suppose we could build a cloverleaf entrance on the west side of South Blvd. But, 1) That would probably congest 485 all over again, and 2) It would greatly increase the cost of my tidy little solution.

Thoughts? Has any re-work of this area been discussed elsewhere, where I could read and learn? Thanks.

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I also think the fix is in the merge lanes at 51. If they were to simply extend it to 51 then a ton of traffic would be taken off the road. Most of the traffic now comes from that exit at 51 (and the line of cars waiting to enter the freeway can line a mile and a half down 51 at times).

If they add a lane to Johnston then the problems will only move to Johnston Road and that section of 485. That left turn lane from 521 to 485 will see a massive increase in traffic as a result. As will the traffic exiting at Rea and Providence.

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I'm not sure what the current status is but they were talking at one point of making an exit ramp at 51 dump directly into Carolina Place Mall to take some of the pressure off of 51. That would help some during the holidays and weekends.

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Is there a comprehensive plan/map of future road construction/grid plan in the CBD area (inner loop and a mile or so outside of it in all directions)? I guess my real question is how connectivity is going to be improved, if at all, in the northwestern and northeastern sections inside the loop with the areas outside of it, also if anything is in the works [long term] through the cemeteries. Clearly there are obstructions due to rail lines and the loop itself, which cause that feeling of disconnect between the CBD and the rest of Charlotte, but these can be bridged over/under, the cemeteries not so easily.

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I also think the fix is in the merge lanes at 51. If they were to simply extend it to 51 then a ton of traffic would be taken off the road. Most of the traffic now comes from that exit at 51 (and the line of cars waiting to enter the freeway can line a mile and a half down 51 at times).

If they add a lane to Johnston then the problems will only move to Johnston Road and that section of 485. That left turn lane from 521 to 485 will see a massive increase in traffic as a result. As will the traffic exiting at Rea and Providence.

Most of the problem I see with that stretch is the far right lane that becomes exit only onto South Boulevard. A lot of people whiz through that lane and then cut over which backs up traffic. If they widen 485 they need to add the extra lane in the current median and eliminate the current far right lane. That would help with that bottleneck, although like you said, the problem would move furthur up the road to the Johnston exit.

Edited by nyxmike
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  • 4 weeks later...

Does anyone else agree with me when i say:

Charlotte REALLY NEEDS to rename its major thoroughfares that suffer from multiple street names>People navigating a large city shouldn"t have to learn nor cherish the quirks of yesterday>it makes NC look backwards>

Raleigh seems proactive as they renamed "capital blvd" which once was "north blvd" and changed "old wake forest road" to just "wake forest road" obviously this was to lesson confusion with the influx of new residents>

ALSO get rid of the politician"s dedications on the freeway signs> charlotte has different names for each direction of the same highway> looks small_town

i know the story behind the changing street names>>>each neighborhood didn"t want to lose its mailing identity but now it"s an issue for the greater good>

Anyone else agree?

ps have a memorial service for the phrase "uptown" and switch to "downtown"

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Does anyone else agree with me when i say:

Charlotte REALLY NEEDS to rename its major thoroughfares that suffer from multiple street names>People navigating a large city shouldn"t have to learn nor cherish the quirks of yesterday>it makes NC look backwards>

Raleigh seems proactive as they renamed "capital blvd" which once was "north blvd" and changed "old wake forest road" to just "wake forest road" obviously this was to lesson confusion with the influx of new residents>

ALSO get rid of the politician"s dedications on the freeway signs> charlotte has different names for each direction of the same highway> looks small_town

i know the story behind the changing street names>>>each neighborhood didn"t want to lose its mailing identity but now it"s an issue for the greater good>

Anyone else agree?

ps have a memorial service for the phrase "uptown" and switch to "downtown"

Most of the post makes sense but why change uptown to downtown. That is Charlotte. When I hear uptown I think Charlotte. Road name changes are cool but losing what little of the past the city has just to please new residents...nahhh

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I think it looks more small town to start renaming things because out-of-towners don't like the current labels.

The street names are confusing, but they are part of the local lingo. I know it's more convenient to have one name per road, but each segment has its own neighborhood identity. Wendover Rd. is simply not the same place as Eastway Dr., in more than just the geographic sense. I say keep the multiple names and find a way to improve the signage so that newbies are less (justifiably) confused by the whole system. Same thing with Uptown; transplants have already caused the city to lose that term once, so that it had to be artificially revived. If you want to go downtown, move to Raleigh.

Now, I'm with you on the politician name-games. Surely there is someone better to name things after than some government crony who signed a few pieces of paper to get an interchange built. This is a problem all over North Carolina, where it seems that everyone down to the Undersecretary of Agriculture gets a bridge named after him. There really should be better oversight over who gets their name on public facilities.

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Does anyone else agree with me when i say:

Charlotte REALLY NEEDS to rename its major thoroughfares that suffer from multiple street names>People navigating a large city shouldn"t have to learn nor cherish the quirks of yesterday>it makes NC look backwards>

Raleigh seems proactive as they renamed "capital blvd" which once was "north blvd" and changed "old wake forest road" to just "wake forest road" obviously this was to lesson confusion with the influx of new residents>

ALSO get rid of the politician"s dedications on the freeway signs> charlotte has different names for each direction of the same highway> looks small_town

i know the story behind the changing street names>>>each neighborhood didn"t want to lose its mailing identity but now it"s an issue for the greater good>

Anyone else agree?

ps have a memorial service for the phrase "uptown" and switch to "downtown"

I completely agree with your statements about the double names in the area. I can personally say that I have had out-of-town drivers ask me for directions and its hard to navigate them without giving landmarks. Also when I worked for OnStar we had this problem, rarely, but still...

On the other hand the uptown to downtown, I don't think it's a good decision. Number 1, it's unneccessary; number 2, it is something unique to the city (I remember moving here and hearing that phrase, I thought it was interesting at the beginning, but have grown to actually like it); number 3, there are a lot of signs, literature, etc. that says 'Uptown', I would think it would be a waste of the taxpayers money (or whoever would pay) to have this all changed.

-Andrew

Edited by Andyc545
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Charlotte REALLY NEEDS to rename its major thoroughfares that suffer from multiple street names

I really think this is a regional issue rather than an issue with Charlotte specifically. In Concord the Kannapolis Parkway turns into George Lyles Blvd which will soon turn into Roberta Church Rd. and will then turn into Stough Rd. It is amazing that we deal with such rather than just keeping on street name and it has been one of my biggest gripes about this area. I'd honestly rather have street numbering systems as they're easier to follow, but I suppose without a true grid of any type here that wouldn't work so well.

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I think it looks more small town to start renaming things because out-of-towners don't like the current labels.

The street names are confusing, but they are part of the local lingo. I know it's more convenient to have one name per road, but each segment has its own neighborhood identity. Wendover Rd. is simply not the same place as Eastway Dr., in more than just the geographic sense. I say keep the multiple names and find a way to improve the signage so that newbies are less (justifiably) confused by the whole system. Same thing with Uptown; transplants have already caused the city to lose that term once, so that it had to be artificially revived. If you want to go downtown, move to Raleigh.

Now, I'm with you on the politician name-games. Surely there is someone better to name things after than some government crony who signed a few pieces of paper to get an interchange built. This is a problem all over North Carolina, where it seems that everyone down to the Undersecretary of Agriculture gets a bridge named after him. There really should be better oversight over who gets their name on public facilities.

i agree with this post.

btw, i am a native charlottean and i have mostly, always said "uptown". of course i've heard it both ways, but, my instinct leans towards uptown.

Edited by cinco
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I think it looks more small town to start renaming things because out-of-towners don't like the current labels.

The street names are confusing, but they are part of the local lingo. I know it's more convenient to have one name per road, but each segment has its own neighborhood identity. Wendover Rd. is simply not the same place as Eastway Dr., in more than just the geographic sense. I say keep the multiple names and find a way to improve the signage so that newbies are less (justifiably) confused by the whole system. Same thing with Uptown; transplants have already caused the city to lose that term once, so that it had to be artificially revived. If you want to go downtown, move to Raleigh.

Now, I'm with you on the politician name-games. Surely there is someone better to name things after than some government crony who signed a few pieces of paper to get an interchange built. This is a problem all over North Carolina, where it seems that everyone down to the Undersecretary of Agriculture gets a bridge named after him. There really should be better oversight over who gets their name on public facilities.

I'm with you on this. Charlotte has a history of how it names roads and that's how it is here. Newcomers (even ones like me who have been here for years and are originally from the region) shouldn't dictate changes. It's just one of the things that makes Charlotte, Charlotte and I like it that way (even when I'm complaining about it :rolleyes: ). I'm def. one of those "I don't care how you did it there" people.

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Does anyone else agree with me when i say:

Charlotte REALLY NEEDS to rename its major thoroughfares that suffer from multiple street names>People navigating a large city shouldn"t have to learn nor cherish the quirks of yesterday>it makes NC look backwards>

Anyone else agree?

ps have a memorial service for the phrase "uptown" and switch to "downtown"

Not just about "an address change". There are historical implications here. Sharon, Amity, Sardis, Providence--all Presbyterian churches from the 18th Century and those streets namesakes. Sharon-Amity Road connected Sharon Presbyterian Church to Amity Presbyterian Church. Beyond things such as this, I love the fact that the street names are all over the place. It makes a very unquirky place, quirky. It's part of our charm. Face it, it wouldn't be Charlotte without an intersection of Queens and Queens.

As for the uptown/downtown thing. Don't get me started on that one. It's historical, the center city sits on a rise between two creeks (you have to go UP to get to the intersection of Trade and Tryon from any direction), and it is what my native 100-year old grandmother calls it. She rode the streetcar and the bus UPtown from Plaza-Midwood (Pecan Ave) to shop.

But the most important point, why do anything because Raleigh does it? ;) That would seem to be the reason NOT to do it.

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Most of the post makes sense but why change uptown to downtown. That is Charlotte. When I hear uptown I think Charlotte. Road name changes are cool but losing what little of the past the city has just to please new residents...nahhh

Why change it to Uptown. It's been downtown as long as I can remember and my mom remembers it being called that as a kid in the 1940s. Even the freeway exit signs that have been there for decades on I-77 say downtown.

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