A steady stream of Lake Norman area residents gathered Jan. 28 to get the first look at plans to widen N.C. 73 between N.C. 115 and U.S. 29 in Concord, and the timing was appropriate, coming just a few days after potential changes in Mecklenburg and Iredell road-work schedules were revealed.

The public open house, hosted by the N.C. Department of Transportation, revealed early concepts for the wider highway and multiple intersection upgrades along the 14-mile corridor between Huntersville and Cabarrus County

The project represents the eastern half of the plan to widen N.C. 73, one of two heavily-traveled east-west highways (N.C. 150, linking Iredell and Catawba counties, is the other) in the Lake Norman region. Previous public sessions have focused on the 8.5-mile western portion from I-77 to N.C. 16 in Lincoln County, but this was the first about the longer, but less complex, eastern section.

The small list of remaining unknowns about the project are the exact route the wider N.C. 73 will follow around or over the Howell Reservoir and the future design of intersections at Poplar Tent Road and Odell School Road.

The eastern section and the western section of N.C. 73 are both scheduled for right-of-way acquisition starting in 2020, but the latest draft of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) schedule proposes postponing construction of the project until Fiscal Year 2023. And that schedule change is just one of many finance-related recommendations likely to delay state regional road projects, including many in and around Mooresville.

The draft version of the new STIP – the blueprint for plans on the NCDOT’s 2020-29 timeline – recommends pushing back the construction schedule on several previously approved area projects, and adds plans to upgrade N.C. 3.

Citing fund balance considerations, the draft recommends all aspects of the western portion of plans to widen N.C. 150 – the section from Harvel Road west of the N.C. 150 Bridge to N.C. 16 – be delayed. The proposed change would push right-of-way acquisition from FY23 to FY 2025 and construction from FY 25 to FY-27. The eastern part of the N.C. 150 widening, from Harvel Road to I-77 near Exit 36 in Mooresville, is still scheduled for construction in FY20-23.

Other projects targeted for delays include:

• Widening of U.S. 21 from Plaza Drive (N.C. 150) to Medical Park Drive. Construction delayed from FY24 to FY25

• Widening of Brawley School Road from I-77 to U.S. 21, construction delayed from FY20 to FY21

• Widening of Williamson Road from south of Brawley School Road to I-77, delayed from FY20 to FY21

• Grade changes on Cornelius Road related to potential I-77 interchange. Right-of-way delayed from FY21 to FY22, construction delayed from FY22 to FY25.

The new recommended addition is the widening of N.C. 3 from Rocky River Road to the Iredell-Cabarrus county line. The proposal is for right-of-way acquisition to begin in FY29, with construction dates identified in a future STIP.

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