LINCOLNTON – The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners met with the county planning board Monday, Feb. 4, to discuss the status of several significant road projects.
Among those discussed were projects that have already received a funding commitment from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), projects that have been included in the draft 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), which will be finalized this year, and projects that didn’t make the cut for that plan.
There are three projects in Lincoln County that NCDOT has already committed to funding, including one planned to improve N.C. 73.
The project calls for improvements along an 8.5-mile stretch of N.C. 73 between N.C. 16 in Lincoln County and Northcross Drive near I-77 in Huntersville. The purpose of the project is to increase the traffic carrying capacity of N.C. 73 so the road can operate at an acceptable level of service through the year 2040, according to NCDOT.
“We’re basically doing some improvements along N.C. 73 that will improve the traffic carrying capacity as well as the traffic flow, and better accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel,” NCDOT project development engineer Wilson Stroud said. “That’s the purpose of the project, but basically we’re going to add two additional travel lanes going in each direction so that we have a total of four lanes. We’re also proposing a divided median throughout the project that will be fairly narrow, but will be raised with concrete curbing and grassed in some areas.”
Right-of-way acquisition pertaining to this project is scheduled to begin in 2020, with construction, originally scheduled to begin in 2022, now projected in the latest draft of the STIP to start in 2023.
A pair of realignment projects at intersections on N.C. 16 Business have received a funding commitment as well, including one where Campground Road and Will Proctor Road converge on the highway. The other, which pertains to the offset intersection of Unity Church Road and Triangle Circle, is likely to start construction in the spring, according to Lincoln County Planning Director Andrew Bryant.
“The main part of the project will be fixing the geometric alignment issues on the eastbound and westbound approaches from both Triangle and Unity,” Bryant said. “Essentially, you’ve got North Triangle approaching (N.C. 16 Business) in kind of a northeasterly fashion and then Unity approaching in a southwesterly fashion, and when you have those skews in there, it just affects the safety of the intersection and the amount of cars that you can get through the intersection. Safety is the main concern with this project.”
In terms of projects that have been included as part of the draft STIP, the intersection of N.C. 16 Bypass and Optimist Club Road has scored as the highest ranking project in the state.
“The state uses a data-driven process called prioritization that uses a lot of metrics including safety, cost benefit and existing congestion,” Bryant said. “This project scored very well through those metrics and rose to the top as a very needed project for this county, and region as a whole.”
The plan is to construct a grade-separated interchange at the intersection in an effort to relieve existing congestion. Right-of-way acquisition for the project is tentatively scheduled for 2021, with construction slated to begin in 2022.
Other Denver area projects that have been included in the draft STIP are the widening of N.C. 16 Business from Fairfield Forest Road to Webbs Road, and the widening of N.C. 73 from Ingleside Farm Road to N.C. 16, but both of those projects are likely 10 years from construction.