MATTHEWS – A portion of the proposed widening of John Street in downtown has come to a screeching halt, and that is welcome news to town leaders.
On April 17, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization unanimously supported the town’s request to NCDOT to delay the portion of the project from Trade Street to I-485 until other road projects near John Street are completed.
The delay will allow the town to determine how traffic patterns are influenced by the other construction projects but more importantly, it will give the town more time to work on design details for that section that is being delayed. Protecting the historic charm and walkable downtown area are top priorities for Matthews.
The delay means right-of-way acquisition, which had already begun, has stopped from Trade Street to I-485 and won’t resume until 2025. Construction is set to begin in 2027.
“The next step in the process is to work with DOT and look at alternative options that may be available to improve John Street,” Mayor Paul Bailey told the board of commissioners on April 22. “I don’t think anybody believes that John Street doesn’t need to be improved. We need to do something, but what that is remains to be seen.”
Because of federal funding guidelines, Matthews could have to shoulder some or all of the cost of the portion of the project if a superstreet is not built. Town leaders oppose the superstreet concept. The money currently in place for the project looks at a solution for the amount of emissions from traffic, and there is a whole formula and criteria that has to be met to meet that standard.
Building a superstreet meets those guidelines but leaders want to look at different designs and see if that money would still apply. If alternate designs don’t meet federal guidelines, then the town would have to assume financial responsibility.
“There are aspects of this that include a funding-model criteria that goes with the funding for the road as a superstreet,” Bailey said. “We are going to have to put that into consideration as we go through this process.”
Multi-use path moves forward
The board also voted to allocate $215,000 in fiscal year 2025 to help with the construction of a multi-use path on Matthews Township Parkway (N.C. 51) from North Trade Street to Independence Pointe Parkway.
The town is partnering with the N.C. Department of Transportation on the project. It was one of just a handful of multi-use path projects in the region to receive funding through the Strategic Transportation Investments. NCDOT is paying 80 percent of the cost of the almost $1.1 million project while the town is paying the remaining 20 percent.
Commissioners reviewed the multi-use path at their January retreat.
Commissioner Chris Melton asked if the town’s contribution would have to be adjusted for inflation.
Town Manager Hazen Blodgett said the total cost of the project is in 2025 dollars.