Posted on 06 November 2014.
Under a design NCDOT is considering, drivers on the Jetton Road Extension who wanted to go south on West Catawba Avenue would first have to turn right (north) onto West Catawba Avenue, then make a U-turn at the intersection with Old Jetton Road to head south.
The superstreet design makes roads safer and improves traffic flow by eliminating left turns (NCDOT)
By JONATHAN COX
West Catawba Avenue could become one of thousands of roads around the US to follow a nontraditional “superstreet” layout after the road is widened over the next few years. And that could mean big changes for drivers: Some left turns would be prohibited at major intersections such as West Catawba Avenue and Jetton Road.
NC Department of Transportation officials were at Monday’s Cornelius Town Board meeting for a presentation about the superstreet design.
No state money has yet been allocated to the widening project, which is currently scheduled to begin around June 2018. NCDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Thompson said this week there could be an update on the timing of the project in the next few weeks.
Among other things, the proposed design aims to ease congestion at intersections by eliminating left turns. Though counter-intuitive, the NCDOT says the design will ease congestion: “You see many states using this innovative street design to improve traffic,” the NCDOT’s Jim Dunlop told commissioners.
DOT officials gave one example of how it might work, for drivers on Jetton Road Extension who want to go south on West Catawba. A direct left/southbound turn would be prohibited, so drivers would have to turn right and drive north on West Catawba to Old Jetton Road. There, they would make a U-turn and head south. (See the map above.)
The NCDOT has not yet finalized the superstreet design or decided where the U-turns would be located. But under a typical superstreet design, left turns would be prohibited at all intersections. Officials say they’re also considering a hybrid design, which could allow some left turns.
While Mayor Chuck Travis said that he was generally in favor of the superstreet design, the town board would not be able to voice its full support until it could see the full layout of the street. “It’s hard for us to give you feedback on a plan we’re not actually looking at,” he said.
Commissioner Jim Duke also voiced concerns about the effect the street layout would have on local business, using the example of the Dunkin Donuts planned for a site near Magnolia Plaza. “If you want to buy a donut and have to do a u-turn a quarter mile up the road, it might hamper business,” he said.
RELATED COVERAGE AND LINKS
If you’re curious about how the superstreet design works, see this presentation on the NCDOT website.
April 14, 2014, “At meeting, residents say W. Catawba widening can’t come soon enough“