The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to build a roundabout at the intersection of Idlewild Road and N.C. 51.
The estimated $1.3 million project would be built using mostly federal funding and the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill would each be required to contribute 10 percent, or $130,000 toward the project. The intersection touches both towns. Members of the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization voted unanimously Wednesday, April 17, to approve the project. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2014, NCDOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson said. The project will go out to bid in June 2014, she said.
Roundabouts are used to address congestion by efficiently moving traffic and at slower speeds, she said. Officials predict the change will reduce the number of crashes at the intersection, including rear-end and left-turn collisions.
According to state crash data, there were 51 crashes at the intersection from June 1, 2005, to May 31, 2010. About 41 percent, or 21 of those crashes, were rear-end collisions. Angle crashes, where cars collide in the middle of the intersection typically after one vehicle runs a red light, accounted for 25 percent or 13 crashes during the same time period, according to the data and Laura Jean, an engineering technician with the NCDOT.
In 2012 Matthews police responded to two crashes in the intersection and 16 crashes within 300 feet of the intersection, Cpl. Lori Valdes said. Matthews hasn’t responded to any crashes in the intersection so far this year, but there were two crashes reported within 300 feet of the intersection in Matthews’ jurisdiction, she said.
Mint Hill police investigated one crash in the intersection and five crashes within 300 feet of the intersection in 2012, according to Lt. John Rowell. So far this year Mint Hill police haven’t responded to any crashes within the town’s portion of the intersection, but have responded to eight crashes within 300 feet of the intersection, he said.
Mayors in both towns say the roundabout will bring a welcome change to the intersection. According to a memo from James Dunlop, a congestion management engineer with the NCDOT, N.C. 51 in that section carries about 18,000 vehicles per day and Idlewild Road carries about 15,000 vehicles per day.
“If it does improve traffic, which they say it will, I’ve got to be in favor of it,” Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers said.
Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor agreed.
“Just drive that road any afternoon and one can see the need for improvements and something to help move traffic beyond Idlewild Road along (N.C. Highway) 51,” Taylor said. “I feel anything
that can help reduce congestion in the area is good for both communities.”