By Mike Parks
Talks are moving forward on widening Old Monroe Road between Matthews and Indian Trail, as the North Carolina Department of Transportation suggests Indian Trail pitch in town bond money and put the entire project out to bid as one instead of breaking it into segments.
That’s just one idea among many being discussed as the state works with Matthews and Union County’s Indian Trail and Stallings to improve the much-maligned road. The project has been broken down into three sections, from South Trade St. in downtown Matthews to Interstate 485, from I-485 to Indian Trail Road and from Indian Trail Road to Wesley Chapel-Stouts Road.
Whether completing one phase would speed up construction on the other phases is unclear. NCDOT is targeting 2018 for some of the work, while the stretch in Matthews currently has no money attached to it and could be pushed back as late as 2040, according to NCDOT officials. The complete cost of the project won’t be known until environmental studies are complete, likely in the second half of 2014.
Speaking at Indian Trail’s council meeting last week, Indian Trail leaders were torn on what is the best way to improve congestion for local drivers. The town could take its $10 million in bond money, which must be spent on Old Monroe in some way according to the bond, and invest it all into completing one of the two Indian Trail sections of road. Town manager Joe Fivas told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly “$10 million could go a long way toward the widening if that’s what we wanted to do,” but Fivas is more interested in finding grants and building partnerships with other towns and departments to “make sure the road is completed and done right.”
Combining the three phases into one large project would make it more efficient for NCDOT, which could have one contractor do the entire project and possibly save money through a single bid. But that also would mean possibly as much as a year and a half of solid work on the roadway before it’s complete, while if it’s broken into phases one phase could be complete while another is being constructed. Fivas said it likely will be up to the contractor to decide at which end of Old Monroe work would start. If Indian Trail pitches in its $10 million, that could give area leaders more leverage in pushing for the project to start on the Indian Trail side.
Indian Trail leaders also may factor in conversations with Stallings and Matthews about how to spend the $10 million. The towns are working together on the project, Fivas said.
“We’re going to work and try to do what’s best for all three towns, certainly,” he said.