Feb 152007
 

How Roads are built

The Rea Road extension project is a lively story with a little something for everybody and pardon my cynicism, it includes the typical Union County prerequisite, catering to a ‘special interest’.

If you haven’t been following this controversy, it’s very convoluted, you almost need program to understand the players and all the facets of the issue.

The Issue

Rea RoadThe plan for the Rea Road extension is to build a new segment from the intersection of Rea Road and Providence Road to NC84 Weddington Road near the 12 Mile Creek Road intersection.

Not only is the controversy surrounding the ‘when’ and ‘how’ the road will be built, but folded in the mix is the effort by Union County’s Chamber of Commerce to convince the MUMPO Board(1) to recommend the project to a higher position on the TIP(2) list, bypassing the will and wishes of Weddington’s town council.

The Twist

The current plan for the Rea Road extension calls for a four lane segment joining Rea to NC 84 built by 2030.

Enter into the picture, a developer with money, who agrees to pave 1800 feet of the 9400 foot extension, but there is a catch. Instead of four lanes, he only needs two lanes to serve his development.

Shazam! We now have a proposal for a two-lane road built by 2013. Amazing how all it takes is a land locked developer to open the coffers of NC-DOT. The state brings $2.3 million to complete the road and open that whole area for more road clogging and school over-crowding development.

By the way, where is that school site donation, Commissioner Candidate Nancy Anderson spoke of last spring?

The Opposition

Weddington’s council majority position is very simple. “Let’s wait until we can get the full pot of money and do the road right the first time,” (Mayor Pro tem Robert) Gilmartin said. “We do want it. We believe there’s a traffic issue.”

Weddington’s position is supported by the town of Stallings(3), who have instructed their MUMPO representatives to vote against the ‘short-term’ abbreviated Rea Road plan.

Enquirer Journal: Weddington council rejects partial funding for road

Charlotte Observer: A key call on Rea’s future

Charlotte Observer: Rea plan bothers towns

Charlotte Observer: Rep for town to say ‘no’ on Rea

Conflict of Interest

If you read the preceding articles from our local newspapers, you’ll note that Union County’s Chamber of Commerce plays an important role in this controversy. I offer no criticism their position, nor their effort to influence the outcome.

I believe, however a ‘conflict of interest’ exists concerning Chamber of Commerce President Larry Helms, who happens to be NC-DOT’s District 10 (covering Union, Mecklenburg County) representative. One need not be clairvoyant to see extraordinary influence welded by Mr. Helms as he wears both hats.

Last night, the MUMPO voted to accept the amended TIP plan and the revised Rea Road project.

  1. Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization [LINK] []
  2. Transportation Improvement Program []
  3. correction: originally the post included Indian Trail as a supporting town, it was not []

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  36 Responses to “Rea Road Extension plan: which fork is chosen?”

  1. I heartily agree with you, Mark, about the questionable role of Larry Helms in any and all road-funding and road-design issues. Union County has a long history of DOT board members who have engaged in, shall we say, questionable practices with the people’s transportation money.

    As for the NC84 issue: in my opinion, neither side is telling the truth and each side is pursuing a potential personal benefit. On the surface it would seem that the Anderson crowd wants to line yet another developer’s pocket with taxpayer money (hey, is there anything new about that?), but there are indications that the other side is aligned with competing development interests.

    Who’s surprised anyway? Business as usual: developers drive the allocation of municipal, county, and state funds…and get richer on this public dole…while the taxpayers themselves are left holding the bag. The bag of big, fat bills, that is. And they can hold it in their lap while sitting stuck in traffic.

    Just look at the so-called “Monroe Bypass” (and all its extensions, connectors, and links). The primary motivator for this project is the excessive number of interchanges placed along the route: interchanges that will each look like an I-485 interchange in terms of development, and which are the real factor that brings the Carolina Heelsplitter problem into the mix. Yep, but the good ol’ boy land speculators and developers already either own the land near the proposed interchanges or have options on it, so what the Monroe Bypass is destined to become is a series of strip shopping centers and sprawling subdivisions just coincidentally connected to each other by a taxpayer-funded road.

    Meanwhile, this absolutely crucial transportation project is forced to languish and suffer delay after delay after delay. Build this essential road – as a BYPASS – and the heelsplitter problem goes away. Ummmmmm…how about building a road, one that we all desperately need, Mr. Helms…sooner rather than later…rather than an access corridor to developers’ pet projects and a gateway to tens of thousands of new commuter houses that Union County taxpayers can’t afford to support?

    We really need to rename the NCDOT to “NCDODF”: NC Department of Developer Facilitation.

    Why can’t the Department of Transportation focus on Transportation projects rather than just spending our money to provide access to landlocked developer-owned property?

  2. Let’s see, you anti-growth guys would rather wait 23 years for the DOT to possibly build a 4 lane road, than wait just 6 years and get at least two of the lanes built, and have a developer pay for around 20% of the cost?

    The location of the road isn’t changing, it’s not going to go any closer to some specific landowner now than it will in 23 years.

    And I’m sure they’ll construct the road and put easements such that it can easily be 4-laned in the future.

    I don’t see the problem here- it sounds like you guys are just upset that a road is getting built AHEAD of schedule.

    The road has been officially approved as of today. No sense in debating the issue any longer- it’s done.

  3. Mr. Raines,

    I have to wonder whether the ‘make do’ attitude you champion hasn’t been part of Union County’s problem all along.

    I was always taught to do it right the first time — then you don’t have to do it again. Weddington’s Councilman Gilmartin is right about that.

    As far as I know, Rt 74, Skyway Dr. in Monroe and the Marvin side of Rea Road are the only 4 lane roads in Union County. What makes you think that other important road priorities won’t make the extension just another four-lane road in waiting like the rest of NC 84 for years to come?

    Union County needs to harness the ‘Irresistible force’ (the developer community) to fight against the ‘Unmovable object’ (NC-DOT). Let them use their political clout to get the state to send more road monies. Who is in a better position to do it?

    This one issue would lay open just about every argument you’ve on the Scribe — but I’d rather point out that need is the mother of invention and if the developers were forced to find a way — they would.

  4. “What makes you think that other important road priorities won’t make the extension just another four-lane road in waiting like the rest of NC 84 for years to come? ”

    Pretty simple, really. The area around weddington and marvin (and western union county to a great extent) has one of the highest per capita income levels in the entire state. The roads around here will get built quickly for the same reason all the roads around ballantyne got built quickly, along with that part of the 485 loop.

    The road money, to put it bluntly, goes to places where the residents HAVE MONEY. It’s as simple as that. Is it corrupt? Dunno. But is it better to spend the DOT money in those areas than in Faison, NC where there are only 10 or 20 residents per square mile? (mostly poverty-line farmers, too)

    I think the answer is clearly yes. It’s like that clown in the senate who wanted to build a billion dollar bridge in alaska to an island that had about 2000 residents. Everyone saw it was moronic because road money needs to be spent in places that actually NEED roads.

  5. 10 or so years ago when John Feezor was a commissioner, he gave a presentation to our Optimist Club and stated unequivocally that the first section of Highway 16 that would be four-laned was the stretch from the coming Rae Road to the coming 485. He cited the lack of mutual agreement, the situation with Providence Presbyterian Church and its historical designation, and the developing political power in the Weddington area. He also noted that according to a national real estate rating, Providence Country Club was one of the top rated developments in the country. But, the short distance from Highway 51 to 485 was completed and Weddington waits.
    Preceding the elevation of Weddington as the town in North Carolina with the highest average income, the little town on Highway 49 in Cabarrus County, Mount Pleasant, held that distinction for years. Have you driven through Mr. Pleasant in the last few years and seen any effect of its holding that distinction?
    It is a misnomer to say that the areas of Weddington, Marvin, and Wesley Chapel have high average income levels when all you have to do is go right across the county line into Mecklenburg and pick any area and it will have an even higher average income. This continues until you reach Myers Park and Eastover. Weddington’s wealth is a relative thing and it comes in way behind some areas close to it.
    There is only one center to Union County, Monroe, that has the potential to be a political force that can draw road money and all the rest. It is the abandonment of that center and the creation of satellite communities with big egoes and little else to offer that has made this county so weak on the state political stage. If Weddington wants roads, then they will come through a county-wide effort centered in Monroe, and it will recognize Monroe as the center toward which those roads travel. As long as they travel toward Charlotte, we have no political feet on which to stand because we are nothing but step children and a part of “The Great State of Mecklenburg” that gets screwed everytime the legislature meets. We are stepchildren of a stepchild. There is no political muscle here.
    To say that a road is 30 years off is to say that it will never be built. Thinking back 30 years I remember David Hoyle, then a road commissioner from Gaston County, now a state senator, telling me that until Charlotte-Mecklenburg officials changed their stance on the outer loop, it would never be built. That process took 25 years from inception to the beginning of funding and it was nothing like the one that had been long anticipated. It was much bigger, much further from the center of town, and served a totally different population from the one that it was first expected to serve.
    We need to stop fanticizing about who we are and what we are and get down to the base level of learning to get along and creating a unified plan for the development of this county that asserts our uniqueness in the Charlotte region, and our intention to build something here that may be influenced by Charlotte, but is of our making. We first have to agree that if you have lived here a day or 120 years, you have the same voice. Anything less and we are just a bunch of arguing brats that Raleigh rightfully passes over.

  6. Actually, no, Aubrey,

    I’m afraid you’re quite wrong. People that have families in this area for 120 years usually have a ton of land, and people who just moved into a subdivision have none. Every single article on this blog since day one has been about LAND. Property rights. Who gets to decide what is done with it, and who gets nothing.

    Under your utopia, two people who move into a subdivision should have the right -via their two votes- to decide what happens to the single landowner who has been there for 120 years. (or rather their family- you know what i mean)

    Look, you’ve stated time and time again that you think property rights are a bunch of hogwash and that subdivision residents are now so numerous that they can kick around the remaining landowners with no worries at all. But like I said about 40 times before, there is something called the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that says the newcomers can’t just say “Hi, we have two votes, you have one, we’re going to take your land.”

    I know you wish the fifth amendment didnt exist, but it does. How many ways can I say this- stop trying to steal our land. It doesnt matter how many votes you have, the constitution still says what you desire is illegal.

    I can’t hold a local vote and if a majority of Wesley Chapel says “I think we should be able to grow pot openly and sell it to anyone who wants it.” Because there are FEDERAL LAWS. And the biggest federal law of them all is the constitution. That pesky document is not going away.

    And I notice you refused to answer my question I posed to you earlier- I quoted you in a February 1999 Wesley Chapel minutes as saying that you thought all the farmland in the area should remain exactly as it is, forever.

    I asked you how this is possible when the farmers in this area are all approaching retirement age, and no farmer in his right mind would purchase farmland for 100k an acre since there is no way to grow/raise any kind of crop/livestock profitably with land prices that high. I asked if you had any plan whatsoever to back up your desire, or if you just wanted those farmers to work the land until the day they died.

    If you can’t come up with a valid response to that question, what is the point of debating anything further? Just face it- you want to see the quaint barns and cows, and no development, but you don’t want to have to pay a dime for it. And you certainly don’t care about the farmers who actually own that land- as you said in your previous post. You referred to them jokingly as “old timers” who’s time has come and past.

  7. I would love to know why the powers at be never seem to learn from their mistakes. These guys go to school for this right? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know and/or predict traffic on the roads. But, with south Charlotte growing in leaps and bounds, the all-knowing NCDOT builds a 4-lane outer-belt that has been congested and gridlocked since the day it opened. The traffic on Providence and Rea Roads are not a secret to anyone, but, heck…let’s just build 2 lanes for now and worry about the consequences later.

    Now they are building 4 schools on Cuthbertson road which is, literally, a dirt road with about 1/8 inch of asphalt over the top of it, with an inadequate bridge, too narrow for SUV’s to pass side by side and they recommend a “turnabout” at the school entrance, and then another one at the intersection of New Town Road? Who are these people?

    Then…the roads or intersections that have already been approved and have funding don’t get completed with excuses like, sorry, it’s November, and the cut off for the asphalt season is here and we just didn’t get to it…better luck next year…So, does the project go to the top of the list? No…another year goes by, then another and another and still no improvement or repair. The NCDOT is quickly becoming one of the most defunct government organizations in the State.

  8. Oh this has become one of my favorite topics, there are certain facts that have to be taken into account when speaking of roads in Union County or for that matter the entire state.
    1. We need new roads. But not if we already provide traffic on them prior to building.
    2. We need old inadequate roads improved.
    3. We need both 1 and 2 prior to allowing more development. (Homes, retail, or industry)
    4. The addition of development should not be a detriment to current infrastructure, but rather enhance or exceed infrastructure. The statement about roads not having enough traffic to warrant a light, turn lanes or the likes is just plain nuts.
    5. We need to build before the need exists or exceeds the current levels. It is very possible and more likely we can grow into a road and stop when overcrowded levels are approached rather than trying to make up for it in twenty years.
    6. We need to build roads based on NEED and not economic desire. Too many developments are planned on or near roads and intersections already failing in todays numbers of trips per day. It makes no sense to allow development on failing roads when “developer improvements” don’t relieve the road from a failing grade.
    Until some of these are taken into account when discussing roads we won’t get anywhere.
    Combine that with a Democratic controlled house and a Republican controlled County and you can understand how money never seems to arrive in this county.
    The county’s special interest groups have to be put in the backseat.
    I believe as long as a majority of our population works in Mecklenburg county the roads in the County that should be of priority should be those roads going into Mecklenburg. That includes Monroe Road/ Old Charlotte Highway, Providence, Rea, 74, and our ultimate Bypass. After those roads are done, then the feeder roads or side roads should be reprioritized.

  9. Well, it could always be worse.

    Try taking a drive just across the border into south carolina through Marvin. Those roads in SC havent been re-paved in decades and quite a few of them turn into dirt roads not even a mile from the NC state border.

    I agree the Cuthbertson road is going to be a DISASTER it first- but I think the outcome will be positive.

    If they really put 4 schools there, and have basically a 1 1/2 lane country road leading to it, within the first few months of school the residents will be screaming bloody murder. If traffic starts backing up 5 miles every morning and no kids can make it to class, somehow I think the road will get expanded quicker than you can blink.

  10. Mr. Raines, I fear you have not done your home work. Roads in N.C. have always been boilt as a political expediency not on a need basis or on a rich vs poor basis. The bypass was a “done project” when it passed the state legislature in 1991. Driven on it lately? The land for the 601N to Marshville side was purchased in 1996 but not one shovel full of dirt has ever been turned. Why? The Democrats control the DOT and they need votes in other areas, not in Reoublican Union County! No power exist outside of Raleigh in N.C. except the few things Raleigh allow the counties to control. This is most vivable if you drive to Raleigh and view the third interstate ring being built there. Charlotte is three times the size of Raleigh and will not have the first ring built for another ten years. What works for the Federal Government does not apply in N.C.!

  11. Actually, no, Mr. Raines. You need to quit smoking that stuff. It has you imagining things that that never happened. But, you have already ruined your brain, so, what the heck.
    Lee Godwin. Very good points. I did not mean to imply that I did not consider the upgrading of Monroe, Providence, and other roads leading to Charlotte as primary needs. I was trying to say that Union County stands alone in the counties that surround Mecklenburg with the mentality that allows its center to play second fiddle to Mecklenburg among its own residents. Rock Hill, Gastonia, Concord, Albemarle, and Statesville are destinations. Monroe is not. That was once not true.
    If you are an old Union County person, like me, then you have to feel sad that we let our center die. The hostility inside the county toward Monroe, when I moved back here in 1978, was vicious, and the reasons were mostly racial. Absentee landlords owned a bigger percentage of the housing in Monroe than in any other town in North Carolina and they operated above the law. The Kevin Pressley antics are not without local precedent.
    Nobody is going to take us seriously because we do not take ourselves seriously. This vacuous argument about property rights is so reminiscent of the absentee landlords blaming all problems on their tenants and creating “them” and “us” zones. Monroe became a “them” zone and the “good, but not Godly, people” of Union County did not go near it. It took a state mandate to make us unify the schools and give the children of Monroe the same chance that other children in the county had. The good old EJ ran an editorial this week that said that the illegal immigrants were causing a resurgence in the KKK. Shifting blame from the perpetrator is so…Ok, Mr. Raines, that was your cue.
    In this state, Union County has a big problem with image, and that and its one party system lead to a big political problem. The image problem has to do with the death of Monroe. Protest all you want, but California is Los Angeles and San Francisco, New York is New York. Florida is Disney world and Miami, Georgia is Atlanta, Texas is Dallas or Houston, Illinois is Chicago, Union County is Monroe. Sorry Weddington, Indian Trail, Marshville, and Waxhaw, but Union County is Monroe. Take a peek at how you think of Monroe and then understand why the rest of this state could care less if we have bad roads. We are a wasteland surrounded by South Carolina, Mecklenburg, and Anson. You got it, we are just part of Charlotte, and Charlotte gets its share of the state road money. We have to change the dynamics of that thought.

  12. There is another problem with roads in this area and it was prevalant in the MUMPO meeting. The Rea Road Ext, with the help of considerable help from a special person of interest, championed that road and got all the elected officials to rally for the building of this road…add into that the local officials from around the area and the battle cry for THIS Road of ALL Roads could be heard throughout the county and beyond….The question is Why this road??? Why now? Why not Monroe Rd, Providence, or dare I say the Bypass/Connector?? Both sides of this Rea Rd project are their own “special interest” and though somewhere down the road…this road eventually going in some fashion from Monroe all the way to the Airport in Charlotte will union county’s “bypass”. Not the one everyone is talking about…in what we should now call “Shore bypass”. The special interest is killing the roads in this and all counties….DOT wants more bang for their buck in order to build roads…that calls for DEVELOPER money and the only way to do that is to give them what they want. Think back scratching.
    There should be two lists on the priority roads for our county.
    Call them “Infrastructure Need” and “Wish in one Hand with SI” Judging from the way the “need” roads are expanded, completed, or improved I am sure you can tell which road would get built faster. If money was at least designated to the Need roads, they may not get built faster but at least maybe some of them would indeed get done.

  13. I would guess, Lee, that the Rea Road 2-lane project as recently recommended by MUMPO will actually make traffic worse if/when it is built…

    What it looks like is going to happen is that Anderson’s developer buddy will get his road extending just far enough to provide access to his subdivision, he’ll build his ~200 houses, and then we’ll have an additional 200 houses worth of cars dumped onto Providence Road for the next 30 years.

    Oh…and another 200 houses worth of kids in the Weddington schools, too.

    Voila… another developer subsidy, another kick in the pants for taxpayers and motorists.

  14. Developer subsidy?

    Are you still trying to repeat the myth that every new house built in union county is a net negative for the economy?

    That somehow only EXISTING residents paying property taxes are good for schools, but anyone new who builds a house and moves here is a drain on the economy?

    Tell me- what year exactly did new residents become a “drain” by default? Was it 2006? 2001?

    Or was every new resident since 1960 a drain, forever? Please explain the logic.

  15. A county in North Carolina increased its student population growth rate average from a historical average of 2% – 4% to 6% – 10% a year over the past 10 years. For example, 6000 new houses are built in just 2 years from January 2004 to December 2005. The historical trend of .5 school age children per house also increased to an average of .9 school age children per house. This results in 5,400 new students into the school system over this time period. This is a 10% annual growth rate for the 2 years. The school system is 22% over capacity. There is an immediate need to build 1 high school and 1 middle school at a total cost of 85.4 million dollars. In addition, 3 elementary schools need to be built at a total cost of 63 million dollars (21 million each). Total cost for all schools is 148.4 million. This will provide a total of 5,200 seats for the 5,400 new students.

    The average home value of the 6000 houses is 225,000 dollars and the property tax rate is .6367 per 100 dollars (the same as Union County). This rate will collect an average of 1,432.58 dollars per home or 8.6 million dollars total per year.

    The residents of the 6000 homes learn that the least expensive way to pay for the schools is to take out a bond. They think they can pay for the 5 schools and other community needs with their yearly 8.6 million.

    Their Bond Options:

    A bond for 148.4 million at a 4.00 fixed interest rate amortized over 15 years will require monthly payments of 1,363984.53 or 16.4 million a year.

    A bond for 148.4 million at a 4.25 fixed interest rate amortized over 20 years will require monthly payments of 1,141,868.36 or 13.68 million a year.
    A bond for 148.4 million at a 4.50 fixed interest rate amortized over 30 years will require monthly payments of 934,329.71 or 11.2 million a year.

    As you can see 8.60 million in taxes does not cover the cost of a single bond option and they still have other school and community needs.

    Here is a short list of additional community needs:

    School operating cost ( currently this is 64% of the Union County operating budget ), police services and infrastructure, emergency services and infrastructure, park, library, jail, medical cost at jails and at hospitals, governmental staff pay, governmental infrastructure, utility infrastructure animal shelter and insurance.

    The problem is not with growth but uncontrolled, unmanaged growth that needs to be subsidized by the tax payers. As a county we continue to need new multi-million dollar bonds every 2 years. These bonds are “rolled into” our county tax rate.

    Because of this uncontrolled growth the Union County operating budget (not school building cost) has skyrocketed to 64% of the Union County’s budget. This means, in my example that each year 5.5 million of the 8.6 million goes to school operating budget for the 5,400 students. Now the 6000 home owner funds are down to 3.1 million in property tax for school bonds payments and community needs. Are you getting the picture ,yet.

    With a more managed growth rate we, as a county, could start paying down outstanding bonds. For example, a annual 10% student and housing growth rate will result in the doubling the school needs and number of houses approximately every 7.2 years. However a 3% annual growth rate will double school needs and the number of houses approximately every 24 years. The main problem is the uncontrolled annual growth rate is causing school bonds to mushroom out of control along with school operating cost. There is no time to pay off the capital improvement cost before we add additional bonds and trailers. The growing pile of multi-million dollar bond is factual proof that uncontrolled growth does not pay for it self.

    As a community we can not afford to substance this pace. The developers know this fact and instead of a solution or help they wrapped their arms around their consultant’s reports and are spending thousands of dollars on Union County Commissioners to push their agenda.

    Just look at the growing number of bonds, school trailers, shake-ups by commissioners, “stories” by commissioners, and the piles of developer money (before and after the election) in the campaign reports to see where Union County is going.

  16. Mr. Raines, you wrote the following:

    “I agree the Cuthbertson road is going to be a DISASTER it first- but I think the outcome will be positive.

    If they really put 4 schools there, and have basically a 1 1/2 lane country road leading to it, within the first few months of school the residents will be screaming bloody murder. If traffic starts backing up 5 miles every morning and no kids can make it to class, somehow I think the road will get expanded quicker than you can blink.”

    That’s fine, but if even you agree that this road will be a nightmare, we have a pretty good consensus built on this issue. Why wait until it becomes a nightmare and endangers the lives of our inexperienced teen drivers and the families that drive on it?

    Let’s take some of the money MUMPO has designated for bike lanes (for leisure biking, not for those who have to use bikes as their primarily transporation) and get them to influence DOT to use it here instead. Or maybe Ed Davis can help the affected citizens he stated he doesn’t want input from and coax some additional funding for the project to fix the road situation. It’s irresponsible to put four schools and a large subdivision (Lawson) on a crummy little road. This will not only be a traffic nightmare, but more importantly, it will endanger the safety of our kids.

  17. Sondra, I agree with you for the most part…

    But, rather than taking money from DOT bike lane projects (these are very small budgets), why don’t we take the money instead from the DOT projects that exist solely to provide new, taxpayer-funded roads to serve landlocked spec property owned by “preferred” developers?

    The current Rea Road payoff comes to mind…a majority of the Weddington town council doesn’t even want it. A “water over the dam” example is Ardrey Kell road in Mecklenburg County: when that road was funded with MILLIONS of tax dollars, there was ABSOLUTELY NO TRANSPORTATION NEED for a connector from Providence Road to US521. When Ardrey Kell Road opened, it was deserted.

    What the real need was: developer John Crosland wanted somebody other than himself to pay for access to his hundreds of acres of spec land. We paid for a road for him…and he made millions and millions of dollars on the Blakeney developments. Huh…too bad all those developmemts have burdened Mecklenburg schools beyond belief. AND…they’ve turned Providence Road into a linear parking lot.

    See? Another example of how Department of Transportation money, rather than improving transportation, actually makes area roads worse.

    But multimillionalre developers keep getting richer on our tab, so I guess we can say “Mission Accomplished”!

    What we need to do is go over the TIP’s with a fine tooth comb and identify and eliminate te projects that are simply developer pork, and transfer the money to the transportation improvements that are really needed.

    Fat chance of that happening with “developers’ best friend” Larry Helms involved with DOT planning around here.

  18. A resident of Champion Forest was killed yesterday while riding his bike on Cuthbertson Road. I knew it was only a matter of time before a tragedy such as this would happen on this tiny road. This was not a child. He was a 45 year old husband and father.

  19. This is an interesting debate but there is a core issue being left out. I live in Aero Plantation, very close to where the proposed road will feed. I am not wild about having the road feed in there, but that is not my objection. My objection is that the benefits of this road are greatly exaggerated.

    I commute to Charlotte every weekday. I studied hard the traffic patterns and tried to find the best routes in and out of the area. What I have noticed is that Providence Road is the core issue. Commuters struggle to work their way into town. Widening the road will help tremendously. Once you work free to 485 traffic devides to 485 gridlock, or works up to the bottleneck at the Arboretum. The commute home bottlenects at the 485 merge. Once you work free of the merging traffic moves at an acceptable rate till the Weddington light. The small turn lane backs up. For every 20 cars heading further south, about 6 are turning on 84. It usually takes 2-3 turns for me to get thru.

    As a result of the bottleneck in Weddington, many commuters take back roads or Rea Rd to head in. Rea Rd mainly if 485 is the goal, back roads if uptown is the goal. Peope take the path of least resistance.

    This new road is not a great problem solver. Once you get on 84 there is small amounts of traffic. The issue is people going North-South and the lower you push the bottleneck the better. Once it hits Rea Rd, many people have turned off to other roads, and you are left with the most southerly traffic. When I take Rea Rd home I turn to Ennis or New town and traffic is flowing smoothly.

    Bottom line is what does this road accomplish? I say very little. Providence Road will solve the majority of that issue. It will never be a complete problem solver since 485 and Providence Road farther north are bottlenecks out of our control and growth keeps occuring. So we are letting a developer offer subsidies in a sense to accomplish minor goals. Real goals for residents of Weddington would be what the residents need. If we want a true town we need things to foster neighbors meeting and getting goods and services they need. Parks and shopping build a sense of connection. I know no one outside my neighborhood and not on my kids teams or classes since we all drive to Stonecrest, Promenade, Wesley Chapel for our activities. Let the Woods die on the vine for poor planning and let the next developer offer a solution that had the road, plus the chance of enhancing Weddington. Weddington as it stands now is not a town, just a place where people buy a house if they want more than .3 acres.

  20. Airhead, thank you for giving the perspective of somebody who actually uses those roads every day and lives in that part of Weddington. I’ve been saying for years that the Rea Road Extension is not a particularly worthy project. As you said, if Providence Road were functional, then there would be no need for the “84 crowd” to use Rea Road to access I-485: Providence Road would remain the logical choice.

    However, in Union County, planning has been so horrible and traffic flow is so poor that the public has been conditioned to believe that the promise of a new road – any new road – is salvation.

    In fact, I have also believed that the primary motivation for the Rea Road Extension is simply to open up the interior land – like The Woods site – for more convenient development. That has been the purpose of more than one road in our region: not to solve transportation problems, but to facilitate new development opportunities for landowners and developers.

  21. Becker, you said:

    “but to facilitate new development opportunities for landowners and developers.”

    I wonder how all the people who live in those developments feel about your derision? The fact remains that people want to move here- why do you try and paint anyone who builds housing for them as some sort of evil?

    here\’s a hint: roads are built for people to drive on. does that make any sense to you at all?

  22. We moved back to Union County after fleeing to Mecklenburg in 2003. We fled due to the whole Walmart issue coming in near the Somerset subdivision where we lived. We were the early ones who were opposed to the big box superstore being approved under the table by the great politckers of Union County. Big Box back parking lot would have been touching our neighborhood’s culdesac, two streets over from where we lived. I am happy that Somerset and the others fought this and won. We were never against retail coming in…. we always knew it was planned there, but somehow….. someone(s) became corrupt.

    Now we have moved back to good ole Union County and find that the politckers are still at it….. and now caught up in the whole mess of The Woods and the “promised” pump station.

    We are against the proposed Rea Rd extension. Why cut another road through our small town of Weddington? It’s not like they don’t have other roads to take, to get them where they need to go.

    Widening Providence Road will make a huge difference and dissolve the need for extending Rea Rd. It just seems really corrupt to me… The Woods offering to pave a short stretch of Rea Rd in hopes that the extension would happen sooner versus later. If we keep putting cut through roads in, you’ll take away the beauty of these small towns. Once that happens, we’ve lost that beauty forever.

    Those of us who live in Weddington moved here for a reason…. its beauty and country like setting. Why not protect small towns like this?

    I would rather drive an extra ten minutes to get where I need to go than to see a big road cut through a beautiful tract of land, not to mention the extra traffic its going to bring into our area and the congestion that will occur with it dumping out around all the schools.

    I’m advocating no Rea Road extension. I’m open to any input on this. I know everyone is probably sick of this subject, but so was the people who fought off Walmart…. and won.

    I don’t understand why Nancy Anderson is advocating Rea Rd so hard. Is it for her own personal interest like I’ve read?

  23. Am I wrong, or was a representative from The Woods posting here in the past week about the pump station….. before the poo hit the fan with the corruption of the PWAB and her offer to assist The Woods for a nice chunk of money. Nice! Thought one of their people was posting on The Village Scribe..

    So where do we stand with Rea Rd? Sorry for all the questions.

    Any Weddington residents posting here, or am I alone?

  24. Yes, a person with the Woods Group has posted a number of comments, under the handle of ‘BEL’.

    The pump station was tabled from last weeks Commissioner agenda and is NOT currently on the Feb 18th meeting agenda.

    The Rea Road project was jumped up from 92nd to 13th on the MUMPO list largely on the strength of the developers commitment to build 1800 feet of two lane road and I believe a bridge.

    If the pump station is NOT approved, then it’s very unlikely the project as configured will be viable.

    There is not a need for the Rea Road extension as compared to the other needs county-wide, like the RT16 widening or fixing Monroe Road. These roads improvements mean a great deal to commuters.

    The Rea Road Extension is a fat cat project, corporate pork for a backroom boys at the Chamber and a couple of specific Weddington property owners. :shock:

  25. Hi All,

    I’m still here. Don’t worry.

    The reason I haven’t posted is illustrated, in part, above. Many comments on this blog lack accuracy and tout so many conspiracy theories, that I’m at a loss for how to respond. I began posting here because I thought that I could help people understand some details of complex issues which are happening in Union County. However, whenever I have made a good faith effort to do so, I’ve been met with schoolyard one-line ‘zingers’. And what does that accomplish? Are people becoming more empowered with information? No. Is there anything being accomplished? No!

    I would love to contribute to substantive conversations in the comments section, but I will not participate in mud slinging, hypothesizing or speculating… its truly a waste of everyone’s time.

  26. Bel, I welcome your comments being that I’m concerned about Rea Rd’s extention and The Woods coming in next door to Aero Plantation. Both will affect our neighborhood. You definitely have everyone’s attention here that is for sure. This blog serves a bigger audience than those who post here from time to time.

    Also, what happened at the board of commissioners meeting last night? Where does the pump station stand now?

  27. Hi Pollyticks,

    Thanks for sharing your concerns. Honestly (and frustratingly so) it is impossible for me to answer your questions at this time, given last night’s meeting. There are many issues, new and old, which need to be evaluated.

    You live in a beautiful community and it’s easy to understand why you would be concerned about the various elements and details of this drawn out process. If your HOA President would like to contact my company and leave their information, we would be glad to supply updates if or when they might happen. It has been our intention to develop a beautiful community responsibly; one that will extend the beauty and theme of the area. We still hope this is possible, and have every intention of being good neighbors.

    Finally, I feel it is important to point out–because I often see this issue incorrectly stated–that we never ‘offered’ Rea Road in ‘exchange’ for a pump station. We are not in the road business, and it was not our idea. The road, as well as other items, were requested from us by the County.

  28. BEL wrote:

    …You live in a beautiful community and it’s easy to understand why you would be concerned about the various elements and details of this drawn out process…It has been our intention to develop a beautiful community responsibly; one that will extend the beauty and theme of the area…

    Well, if you think that Aero Plantation is such a “beautiful community” and you intend to develop a “beautiful community…that will extend the beauty and theme of the area” why don’t you, indeed, do just that?

    Why don’t you develop another community to complement Aero, one with the same 3 – 8 acre lots, one without the gate, one with 40 or so “beautiful” estates…instead of another one of the “same-old same-old” Robert Davis Engineering maximum-density expensive-cookie-cutter subdivisions? One that doesn’t require the artificial density-boost of sewer? One that doesn’t put the downstream Aero residents in danger of seeing their upper lake filled with the floating flotsam of colorful toilet paper in the event of a pump station failure/overflow? One that doesn’t, by means of that same pump station, enable the construction of yet 1,700 more high-priced tract houses in the basin? One that offers a truly unique rural and “upscale” neighborhood to complement rather than devalue the adjoining neighborhood that has been there for over 35 years? One that doesn’t cause more additional traffic than any Rea Road improvement would compensate for? One that doesn’t let you “cut in line” ahead of Union County residents and municipalities who have been waiting for sewer capacity for years? One that doesn’t open the door to – already – two more developers who will say “you broke with policy to give Infinity their pump station, now we want ours? (and who knows how many more are waiting in the wings).

    You developers with your obsession with maximizing density and maximizing profit. :roll: It’s not government’s job to maximize your profit. It’s government’s job to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the peopole who live here right now.

  29. How many acres are in that basin? 1,700 homes sounds like a lot. Would they still be on acre lots?

    PT

  30. Well, BEL herself said in this post: VSO Post #491

    …we have agreed to construct a pump station and lay new lines that would serve an additional 1,700 acres beyond our development …

    So my “1,700 homes” assumed 1-acre lots. Perhaps that was a bit optimistic on my part; in the past, we’ve seen densities approved at 2, 3 and even more homes per acre once sewer service is made available to the developers by our officials.

  31. We are Weddington, so doesn’t that mean any new construction home going up has to be on at least an acre lot?

  32. Maybe, Pollyticks…but what with that nice new Rea Road extension and the great access and the pump station and the commercial potential for Pittenger’s spec land at the corner of Rea and Providence…who knows? Property can be rezoned any time…that sweet new highway corridor and helpful pump station could be the start of something new and exciting! :mrgreen:

  33. Wow, 1,700 lots beyond the planned development of 100 or 200?

    That’d be a heck of a giant pump station. Even monster developments in these parts (single family) are no more than about 150-200 houses.

    I can see why the developer was willing to front the cost of building the Rea Road extension, plus a water tower, plus a school (?)

    I know the county approves smaller pump stations ALL THE TIME, even though it’s officially against policy.. I wonder if the end of the PWAB will spell the end of all the smaller pump approvals too?

    A pump station for 20 hours is a whole different matter than one for 2,000 houses. Does anyone have a rough idea how physically large something with that capacity would be? I know a 20 house pump is barely the size of a volkswagen.

  34. Rick (may I call you Rick),
    Don’t pretend like you don’t know how these things work… A developer proposes to develop a piece of property in accordance with the zoning regulations and the UCPW water / sewer extension policy, and the municipality says forget the rules you need to give us something in return. Your side of the issues calls this a bribe, mine calls it blackmail.

    People developing properties have done many good things for the county. They’ve extended water and sewer across the county; some people consider that to be a good thing. There are alot of people who are glad to have sewer in their backyard, and water in the road out front. Forget the health issues involved with a bad well or malfunctioning septic tank; if for no other reason they are glad because it makes their property value go up. Who do you think has paid for the majority of the road improvements around here – It certainly wasn’t the county. I personally am glad to have a nice restaurant right down the road, and a place to shop without having to drive to Charlotte.

    You’ve used the term cookie cutter subdivision / houses several times. Obviously there are alot of people who like (and are proud of) those cookie cutter houses. I think Aero Plantation is a beautiful subdivision as well, but I can’t afford to live there; Can You?

    Believe it or not, I agree there should be smarter growth in the county; but the APFO as written, and trying to vote down every possible solution for expanding the water / sewer supply is not the answer. – And by the way, there is no such thing as a UCPW policy that says pump stations are not allowed.

  35. JBW; interesting question “who paid for our roads. ALL roads in North Carolina belong to the state of NC> So we all know who pays for our roads, the taxpayer. Union County has paid over $550 million in Interstate Highway taxes alone and there are NO freeways in this county!

  36. JBW,

    You said:

    “A developer proposes to develop a piece of property in accordance with the zoning regulations and the UCPW water / sewer extension policy, and the municipality says forget the rules you need to give us something in return. Your side of the issues calls this a bribe, mine calls it blackmail.”

    Zoning boards exist mainly for the purpose of taking bribes- and that is a worldwide thing, not just a union county thing. Sad but true. Most aren’t dumb enough to actually ask for the cash bribes over email, though.

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