South Trade changes still on hold

Matthews mayor urges commissioners to ‘think hard’ before making decision

by Josh Whitener

The Town of Matthews is holding off on making any decisions concerning improvements to South Trade Street, including the intersection of South Trade and Fullwood Lane.

Matthews commissioners decided Monday, July 23, to wait to make a decision about the project until they have had time to consider all the ramifications of the improvements.

“I think we need to really think about the future,” Commissioner Suzanne Gulley said. “Fullwood was a mistake. It was a mistake, and it’s not that old. We need to think about what’s going to happen in the future. I mean, that’s what we’re here for. We’re supposed to have the vision and try to see what the traffic patterns are going to be, and if we don’t … we’re going to be in a world of hurt.”

Public Works Director Ralph Messera said plans call for the intersection to be transformed into a “sweep design,” which would require relocating the intersection. Plans show South Trade Street remaining a two-lane road from Brenham Lane to the Fullwood intersection.

Fullwood Lane would be removed from its existing location and designed to stretch across property owned by ACTS Retirement-Life Communities to a new intersection with South Trade Street located out of the downtown area. The North Carolina Department of Transportation would remove the signal at the current intersection to the new intersection. About three acres of vacant property would have to be acquired from ACTS, and the relocation of Fullwood Lane would require the demolition of one currently vacant house.

Messera’s report says one benefit of this design is the plan is more cost effective than the four-lane design on current rights-of-way. Another benefit is the bridge over the nearby creek wouldn’t need widening should the sweep design be implemented. However, this design may not improve future traffic flow, higher speeds might make it more difficult for drivers exiting Hampton Green and Matthews United Methodist Church, located at the intersection of South Trade Street and Fullwood Lane, would lose its traffic signal, Messera said.

Matthews commissioners plan to further examine the situation over the next few months to determine whether pursuing the improvements or leaving the intersection as is would be the better option.

“I think this board here really needs to think hard and strongly as to whether we are going to pull the trigger or the plug, and I’d like to come to a conclusion sooner than later,” Mayor Jim Taylor said, adding that he’d like to see the board come to a decision by fall.

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