CORNELIUS – The town plans to ask the N.C. Department of Transportation to add traffic circles and median breaks that allow for U-turns on West Catawba Avenue.

Town commissioners discussed April 21 a letter staff drafted to the NCDOT outlining recommendations regarding how the proposed 2018 widening of the avenue should happen. The widening includes an additional lane on each side and the construction of a median for safety and efficiency.

Among the town recommendations were the additions of traffic signals, traffic circles and median breaks.

“There has to be spacing,” Cornelius Planning Director Wayne Herron told the board. “We couldn’t request signals at all intersections. That doesn’t help the flow of traffic. We requested it at intersections with the greatest safety concern and for moving traffic. We are asking NCDOT to explore it.”

Among the areas up for consideration is at the Nantz Road intersection, with the addition of a roundabout or traffic signal, though other road improvements are needed. Signal and roundabouts were also proposed for consideration at Kings Point Drive/Robbins Crescent Drive, Harborside Drive, Bluff Point Road/Robbins Crescent Drive, Dunmore Drive and Waterview Drive/Kenton Place.

Herron said Kings Point was initially not thought to need special attention until residents brought up the marina traffic during a recent open house about the project.

“It’s too close to Westmoreland to have a signal, but it may be the only option to have a roundabout,” he said.

Commissioner Woody Washam said something had to be done because “it’s a mess right there.”

Discussing the effect of the roundabouts on Davidson’s Griffith Street, commissioners said there might be some confusion at first, but it may be a safer and better way to go. Although, Washam noted, traffic volume on Griffith doesn’t compare to Catawba.

Recommended places for allowed U-turns were Jetton Road, Magnolia Estates Drive, Harbor View Drive, Rosalyn Glen Connector, Westmoreland Lake Drive, Village Harbor Drive, Westmoreland Road, Preston Lake Drive, Vineyard Point Lane, Mariner Cover Drive and Sam Furr Road.

Herron said it’s important to keep consideration for U-turns because people forced to go one way onto West Catawba Avenue at some point need a way to go back the other direction. Each improvement, U-Turn or roundabout must be able to handle boat trailers.

The NCDOT plan includes having sidewalks and multi-use zones, which staff said is “a critical part of the project” to serve as major connection to the parks and mixed-use developments. They also hope the median will have landscaping and potential streetlights.

Another topic commissioners have continually talked about is the need to bury utilities within the right-of-way. The town would have to fund that part of the project but is considering having it coincide with the construction.

Other things the town may consider adding are streetlights and banners to make the area aesthetically pleasing. Staff must give NCDOT notice of their intentions to plan for it. Town Manager Anthony Roberts said those projects would cost the town, but he also hopes funds like Powell Bill money can pay for some of the extra things, like potential stamped crosswalks to make them more decorative.

NCDOT representatives intend to hold a second public meeting in late August. 

To submit comments now, contact Elmo Vance Jr., project development and environmental analysis unit, at 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548, by phone at 919-707-6048 or via e-mail at eevance@ncdot.gov. The deadline to comment is May 9.