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3) While I agree 100% that Charlotte deserves more money and support from Raleigh, could someone please acknowledge that (a) I-485 already forms as much of a "loop" as Raleigh's Beltline, which is merely an old bypass attached to an interstate, (b) I-485's completed mileage exceeds that of Raleigh's I-440 and (currently completed portion of) I-540 combined, c) Raleigh doesn't have any hwy lighting, (d) Charlotte area has far greater mileage of widened hwys (I-85 for example), and (e) Charlotte will have two 4-level stack interchanges and none are even planned for "Rawleigh"?

A) OK I'll acknowledge that 485 is much of a loop... What's the point of the observation? The Park Condos are much of a building by the same argument.

(b) Maybe I-485's completed mileage exceeds that of Raleigh's I-440 and (currently completed portion of) I-540 combined, but doesn't our population and recorded vehicle traffic exceed those two combined as well? I believe I've read that before.

c) Raleigh doesn't have any hwy lighting: That, I don't know - but see above about a possibility of why it isn't as needed as Charlotte.

(d) See (b)

(e) See (b)

Edited by Urbanity
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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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The bigger question recently was why throw hundreds of millions of dollars at a loop around Fayetteville when we havent managed in 40 years to complete one around the biggest city in the State.

There has and probably always will be a tug of war between the two biggest cities in North Carolina but I'm not willing to discount the fact that traffic is terrible in the Raleigh area...they need interstates and loops too.

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Let's not get too drawn into a Raleigh vs Charlotte discussion. Both Raleigh and Charlotte suffer from having to subsidize the rural areas of the state, especially in the east, with transportation money. Having 5 or 6 freeway corridors to the coast (64, 264, 70, I-40, 74/I-73) is wasteful, but it doesn't matter to them because the equity formula allows them to plan projects even though the economics of the area would not otherwise justify them. On the other side, both Raleigh and Charlotte have to make sacrifices and rob Peter to pay Paul all the time to get projects finished.

When people in general complain about Raleigh, it is the same as complaining about Washington. It is just the legislature and NCDOT in Raleigh has not corrected the funding issues with investing and maintaining infrastructure in our cities.

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1) I often read about Raleigh having two loops while Charlotte doesn't even one completed. But in North Carolina, no two loops are the same and size does matter, lol.

2) Here is my take on NC's highway infrastructure. Historically the state has always been rural in nature, with practically every square mile inhabited for many decades. I believe all the state's residents are entitled to benefit from a lifetime of paying some of the highest gas taxes in the nation.

Now keep in mind I'm only playing the devil's advocate so don't get angry, but Charlotte's recent extreme growth shouldn't result in the siphoning away of the rest of the state's funds.

I almost cringe when I read comments suggesting that the rest of the state is bumblef*ck except for Charlotte. In fact, very few states if any have a more evenly-distributed population than NC. It ranks 2nd only to Pennsylvania in rural population. (Not sure whether in percentage or total no.)

Fayetteville's immediate close-in population is over 312,000 residents, so I think starting on a loop for them is justified.

Of course, all of you acknowledge that the state has attempted to bring prosperity to impoverished areas by building roads. It probably has both succeeded and failed in different areas.

I agree the equity formula sucks, and I predict NCDOT will soon modify how funds are allocated. The most ridiculous project I've seen from the current formula was when my friend from Henderson, NC (pop. around 20k) took me for a drive on Henderson's loop! It's only a couple of miles and might just be a bypass tho.

Charlotte is a metropolis in nature and pulls commuters from a bigger swath of surrounding counties than other cities in the state. So, yes its highways are more strained and therefore deserve a lot more attention.

I believe the problem lies in NCDOT having to maintain all 80,000 miles of the state's roads. I don't think most states are like this.

Edited by architect77
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NC in general is a donor state for transportation taxes, and Mecklenburg is a donor county within the state. North Carolina took over the road system from the counties a couple generations ago, so they now are on the hook for keeping up with the infrastructure needs. I personally have a far bigger problem with NCDOT failing for decades to understand that streets in cities need sidewalks and trees and bike lanes than I do with loop politics. But the fact is, if they are going to take responsibility for infrastructure, they need to be responsible.

After a decade of having 277 be dark and constantly in the newspaper our division chief had to take a trip to Charlotte from Albemarle, where the state located our division headquarters, to even see what the fuss was about, and that was after it had become a major controversy in the news. There are so many microscopic issues with various city streets owned by the state, yet they come in and design roads as though they were designing them for other places.

I personally am a big supporter of the intrastate system that NCDOT designed, basically putting 4 lane highways throughout the state. My problem, though, is that so many of the funding rules are siphoning funds RAISED in urban counties without reinvesting in those counties. The economic return for infrastructure is higher than in rural areas where fewer people are using the investments.

I am even for raising taxes just on this county to help cover the gap in infrastructure needs. The problem is we are beholden to the state government, which does not seem to be trying to solve the problem.

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There are some new highway signs up on Brookshire that I noticed. The former exit sign for "Caldwell, Davidson, McDowell" is now called "Eleventh Street - subtext: Caldwell, Davidson McDowell" There are two of these I think.

Is this part of the "new" wayfinding signs program, because these are just the same old green highway signs...

N

No; I understand these overhead signs are part of a reflectivity program to make general signs more visible at day or night. The wayfinding signs will be groud-mounted and direct motorists to venues in Uptown.

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Does anyone know when the state will find out if they got the money to widen I-85/Yadkin River Bridge? If I recall correctly, I think it's this month (Feb)?

I don't think they've announced yet. But check out all the applications. There were ten requests from NC totalling $855m, including the Yadkin bridge and the Lynx Red Line.

$56.6B in applications for $1.5B in funds. I'm guessing we should not be confident that either of our projects will be funded.

http://www.dot.gov/recovery/docs/tdgappoverview.pdf

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I agree the equity formula sucks, and I predict NCDOT will soon modify how funds are allocated. The most ridiculous project I've seen from the current formula was when my friend from Henderson, NC (pop. around 20k) took me for a drive on Henderson's loop! It's only a couple of miles and might just be a bypass tho.

NCDOT does not have the power to do this. The oft-ridiculed "Equity Formula" is written in state statutes, and therefore can only be changed with a repeal of that law by the legislature and signed by the Governor. NCDOT's new Secretary (who most agree has done a very good job in beginning to repair the agency) has even said publicly stated that that formula is unfair to the state's urban areas, so acknowledgment of the problem is the first step (of 12? :) ). As I understand it, they are now undertaking a process to revamp the decision-making process for the state's transportation priorities, such that it will be more data-driven and less political (knowing that politics will always play some role). I believe DOT's hope is that in presenting the data of where the actual needs are today versus where the money is being allocated, that information may be used to re-examine the case for the current viability of that 1989 law.

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/breaking/story/1240929.html

Looks like they will award the contract for completing 485 by Memorial Day! I guess Bev is serious about moving forward.

I don't even like the freaking loop, but I am so ready to just get the dang thing finished so we can move on to our infrastructure issues. I do hope, however, that the design-build-finance proves to be good way to save money and build important projects quickly so it can be considered for other projects over the next decade.

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http://www.charlotte...ry/1240929.html

Looks like they will award the contract for completing 485 by Memorial Day! I guess Bev is serious about moving forward.

I don't even like the freaking loop, but I am so ready to just get the dang thing finished so we can move on to our infrastructure issues. I do hope, however, that the design-build-finance proves to be good way to save money and build important projects quickly so it can be considered for other projects over the next decade.

I've been of the same mind. Honestly though - I'm not a big driver and I rarely head up that way to begin with so I may be biased.

PR wise - I think it will help get the chip off of Charlotte's shoulder though. Economy/transportation wise - I am certain that the benefits are worth it. I'm just ready for the attention to be focused on Independence.

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I've been speaking with several people in NC gov't about this lately. The excuse I get is that thieves rip out copper wire quicker than NCDOT can replace it. One of the engineers told me that $60,000 worth of copper wire was stolen on the section between Brookshire and I-85 over the past year alone. While I'm sure he's speaking the truth, it still doesn't explain why every other state I visit on this entire continent don't seem to have the issues we do with roadway lighting. Are the fixtures that NC uses somehow more prone wire theft? Does no one traveling one of the busiest highways in the state bother to call the police when a truck is stopped with people ripping wire out of a light pole at 3 a.m.? Why is this only a problem for roadway light fixtures in North Carolina, but not in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, California, etc...?

BTW, I encourage all who are as irritated with this as I am, to contact Budd Berro (he runs the governor's office here in Charlotte) and tell him.

Fox Charlotte just did a report on this: Lights Out in Uptown

Seems the NCDOT just wants to keep replacing the cooper wire instead of any other solution as everything else isn't deemed worth the price.

Edited by Urbanity
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As an in-town neighborhood resident regularly looking back at Uptown, I kind of like the lack of light pollution that could detract from skyline views.

Having driven in/through other cities with working interstate lights (such as NY, Atlanta, Miami for example), the lights do not detract from the skyline views...

I think it would be different if there weren't any lights, or very few to begin with, but with all the burnt out lights it looks terrible and many of the entrance/exit ramps are pitch black. Maybe the solution in this city is to just remove most of the lights and instead continue to erect the large mast lights on interchanges/entrance and exit ramps only? Or not use copper wiring? What type of wiring do other cities use???

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TIGER grants will be announced today, and we'll see if NC gets any money for the I-85 project. Each state could get up to $300 million but given that NC has received $545 million for rail improvements, I view it as fairly unlikely that we will score that big from TIGER.

The I-85 improvement project is split up into two components:

  • I-2304AC for the new bridge and the highway realignment in the immediate vicinity of the bridge. Est. cost: $176 million.
  • I-2304AD for widening the highway about 4 miles north until I-85 business. Est. cost: $150 million.

One possible, perhaps more likely outcome is that TIGER would fund all (or part of) I-2304AC for the bridge itself, and leave the rest of the project up to NCDOT and the MPO/RPOs.

The issue that got us into this quagmire in the first place is the equity formula. While incredibly important projects in the Piedmont like this go unfunded, projects like Goldsboro's second freeway bypass get the green light. If this project is fully funded by TIGER, then NC won't have to face the music that its supposed "equity" formula is in fact extremely unequitable.

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I'm intrigued by the 'administrative costs for financing'. It seems like they are saying doing design-build-finance and use this $10m make that happen and we'll pay the normal amount that we would have anyway from the normal pool of money.

Also, this project was listed as budgeted in the most recent TIP over the next 3 fiscal years. I hope that that means that with hope for a windfall grant, that they'll just move forward with it.

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Interesting blurb in Mary Newsom's blog

You'll see some language on the US DOT document, if you read it, about North Carolina being eligible for "optional innovative financing enhancements to support a direct loan for up to one-third of the project costs." I asked Conti what that meant. "That's a good question," he said ruefully. It means, he said, that N.C. could cash in the $10 million now for a $100 million loan. But without a revenue stream to repay the loan (such as a toll road might have) it's best to just take the cash, he said.

The state does have $180 million money set aside for Phase 1 of the Yadkin bridge project. It can start work as early as June, he said. That money will pay to replace and widen to eight lanes the I-85 bridge, the U.S. 29-70 bridge and reconstruct the N.C. 150 interchange. So I-85 will go from eight lanes to four, as it does now, then widen to eight again over the bridge.

http://marynewsom.bl...-grant-for.html

Edited by Urbanity
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I don't know if anyone's noticed, but it appears many of the road signs on I-277 have been replaced with newer, more accurate ones. For example, Eleventh Street has finally been given its just due, finally being mentioned on one of the exit signs leading to Brevard and Davidson Street. It also appears that most exits have been given exit numbers.

None of the "Bobcats Arena" signs have been changed to "Time Warner Cable Arena", however.

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So Gov Purdue (really Gene Conti) seems to be turning the NCDOT ship back on course. They are not changing what is in the 5 year construction plan already, but basically are requiring new project to be selected and prioritized based on actual data and need and not based on politics.

http://www.ncdot.org/performance/reform/

It is important to remember NCDOT's reach is far beyond the highways, as they schedule the repaving, maintenance, upgrades and widenings of a significant number of streets throughout the state. So to shift to a more rational approach to prioritization will likely end up relieving some of the public complaints about where they spend their money. While it doesn't fix the Equity Formula requirement, at least what even the rural divisions will build will need to be prioritized based on data and not based on political shenanigans.

http://www.ncdot.org/download/performance/Highway_Summary_Report.pdf

The roads that get the most notice, the large highways, begins on pg 58 in the pdf above. Charlotte area roads are 7 of the top 10 when ranked with a data-based approach for 'statewide' tier highway projects.

1) 85 widening near Salisbury through the Yadkin Bridge

2) Independence between Idlewild and 485 (Albemarle Rd to Idlewild is about to happen already)

3) HOV extension on 77 to 5th

4) 77 widening between 485 and NC73

5) NC73 widening in Cabarrus county

6) NC73 widening in Mecklenburg county

9) 85 widening between Concord Mills and NC73

The fact that they rank so many high ranked projects here will hopefully bode well that all of those will be funded this decade, and hopefully on the early side of the decade if the the design-build-finance method works out for high-impact projects.

For highway projects in the 'regional' tier, the Charlotte area also has a lot of projects in the top 10.

1) 51 widening from Independence to Lawyers

2) Freedom Dr widening from Toddville Rd to 485

3) NC16 widening from Weddington to Waxhaw

4) Statesville Rd widening from Sunset Rd to Catawba Ave

5) New Belmont-Mt Holly Northern Loop

6) US21 and Catawba Ave intersection

7) NC3 Widening in Cabarrus

8) 29/601 signal coordination in Cabarrus

9) West Blvd Relocation

In part, this is just a revelation of the fact that our road needs have been neglected, as data-wise, we still have the needs but still don't have the actual road. But hopefully this highlights validity of our needs so the state will step up.

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So I noticed NCDOT continues to install message board signs along the highways, but still doesn't use them to display travel and traffic information. It's nice to know the travel time to major exits during rush hour or if there is an accident. I hope they plan on doing that eventually.

Edited by nyxmike
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So I noticed NCDOT continues to install message board signs along the highways, but still doesn't use them to display travel and traffic information. It's nice to know the travel time to major exits during rush hour or if there is an accident. I hope they plan on doing that eventually.

Funny you should mention this. Last weekend my wife and I were headed to Southpark for dinner on I-85 south and encountered an overhead sign that actually had a message. It was about a wreck at the Graham Street exit but since the signs are used so infrequently we disregarded it and figured it was old news. As luck would have it, a couple miles down I-85 we encountered a parking lot. :)

I suppose next time I'll trust the signs more when they do say something, but NCDOT has used the signs so infrequently that we don't pay attention to them anymore. I can't be alone in this.

I wish the signs would display relevant information like they do in Florida...like what the drive time to downtown is for example.

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Good to know a project that isn't needed is getting a green light, but meanwhile, US-74 in Union still sits stalled. GRRR! Garden Parkway is a Go-Go

I thought the Monroe Bypass is suppose to start construction this year???

And one lane in each direction from 321 to I-85? Wow... typical NCDOT half-assing everything.

Edited by nyxmike
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^Correct, the Turnpike Authority will build the Monroe By-Pass BEFORE the Gaston Parkway. As such, the piece of US-74 that's actually stalled sits from about WT Harris to I-485. That's because in the next two years, Independence will be widened and signals removed from Sharon Amity to Wallace Lane.

Collectively, the funded extension of the expressway another mile-plus down Independence and the very long, new turnpike in Union County leaves a gap. It's this section of US-74 (Harris to 485) that I hope NCDOT, or even the Turnpike Authority, would investigate as an equal, if not greater, project need compared to the "Garden Parkway" or Gastonia By-Pass.

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