HUNTERSVILLE – A steady stream of north Mecklenburg residents navigated narrow streets Jan. 28 to get the first look at plans to widen N.C. 73 between N.C. 115 and U.S. 29 in Concord.
The public open house, hosted by the N.C. Department of Transportation at Lake Norman Church of Christ off Caldwell Station Road, provided the opportunity for visitors to see frame-by-frame images of early concepts for a wider highway and multiple intersection upgrades along the 14-mile corridor.
The project represents the eastern half of the overall plan to widen N.C. 73, one of two heavily-traveled east-west highways (N.C. 150 is the other) in the Lake Norman region. Previous public sessions have been held about the project’s 8.5-mile western portion – between Northcross Drive and N.C. 16 in Lincoln County – but this was the first focused on the longer, but less complex, eastern section.
It was also the first NCDOT public meeting featuring interactive video monitors allowing NCDOT representatives and consultants to zero in on diagrams to illustrate answers to site-specific inquiries.
The eastern section, expected to cost $192 million including previous expenditures based on the latest State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) estimate, and the western section (expected to cost more because of the need for a new Catawba River bridge) are both scheduled for right-of-way acquisition starting in 2020. However, the newest STIP draft proposes that construction on the entire highway project, which is currently penciled in to begin in Fiscal Year 2022, be push back due to budgeting considerations until sometime in FY23.
Current plans for the eastern section include four travel lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle paths on both sides of the highway.
Multiple design options are being considered for different stretches of the highway and at well-traveled intersections, including Davidson-Concord Road and Poplar Tent Road.
Highlights of the current plan include realigning June Washam Road to intersect with Davidson-Concord Road farther north of N.C. 73 and four options for the highway route around or over the Howell Reservoir.
Maps and information are available at www.ncdot.gov. Public comments based on the presentation will be accepted through Feb. 12.