UPDATE FROM APRIL POSTING – http://www.matthewswatch.com/2017/04/ncdot-project-u-4714-east-john-streetsuper-street/
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has now scrapped the superstreet design. What is a superstreet? When there are two roads that cross each other, you get an interchange. At this point there is a red light/green light intersection. You are able to turn left, right or go straight. A superstreet is an alternative to a lighted intersection. On a superstreet, roads that join to the superstreet can only turn right onto it. To make a left turn one would have to travel in the other direction and then make a U-turn. They seem to be the new fad with the NCDOT.
There has been quite a buzz these past couple of months concerning East John Street with media, community and newspaper coverage. On June 14, 2017 the NCDOT presented two four lane highway designs to the Town of Matthews and a community meeting is being planned for late July/early August. While this may be the answer to the Town the citizens in and around Matthews feel this will still destroy the character of Matthews. A “road diet” is being requested by residents who support the Preserve Matthews movement. The favorite seems to be a three lane concept. Something like presented in the picture below. They have also requested that construction of E. John Street be put on hold until the Hwy 74, Weddington Road Interchange at I-485 and the McKee Road Extension is complete so that the NCDOT and Town can see how much traffic from Monroe, Stallings and Indian Trail will be diverted around Matthews which would relieve some of the congestion currently along the E. John Street corridor. With the planning of CATS running from Sardis Road all the way to CPCC Levine this too should help with congestion. This sounds reasonable, right?
Whenever future development is being planned within the Town of Matthews town staff will present and discuss with the NCDOT in order to get their feel and how they may be able to help. Not only is the Town planning to develop the property around the Sportsplex there are big plans to commercialize downtown Matthews as you can see in the Matthews Downtown Streetscape Design. The look and feel of a small town will be no more.
The development of the Entertainment District and Wingate Commons will run from old Highway 51 to East John Street and there are Stakeholders whose interests need protecting. Unfortunately here in Matthews money is more important than people. There are individuals who currently serve on the Board and Town Committees who will probably benefit from the development as well. Is this not a conflict of interest?
We are constantly being told how “congested” E. John Street is going to become over the next ten years or so and yet instead of diverting traffic the Town’s plan is to make E. John Street a gateway into downtown Matthews. What’s wrong with that picture? In the Town of Matthews Land Use Plan it states “Between the I-485 interchange area and downtown, adjacent land should remain its current, mostly residential use. If redeveloped, this land would be appropriate for higher-density alternative housing styles. Recombination of parcels and sharing of driveway access points would be ideal in this scenario.” Translation? Let’s put more homes and cause more traffic on E. John Street.
As a Matthews native who LOVES the old time charm I questioned if East John Street could be pulled into the Town Maintained Street System and this was my posting on Facebook.
What if I told you there could POSSIBLY be a way to stop the E. John St. project completely. Would you be interested? Something so simple you are going to say, no way! I have spent many days researching and asking myself how can we save the homes, the character of the Town, in all avoid this project completely. Today I had a meeting with the DOT and this was my proposal.
Within the Town of Matthews the Mayor and Commissioners have the power to pull streets into the town maintained system. To do this all the Mayor and Commissioners have to do is pass a Resolution adding streets to the Town’s street system. My question to the DOT was, is it possible to pull a portion of a street in? The DOT was unsure but after I provided information showing that on July 14, 2008 a section of Sam Newell Road between Matthews Street and Matthews Township Parkway (NC51) was pulled into the Town of Matthews, the response was I guess so but this would be completely up to the Town of Matthews to decide. My next question was, are there any reasons as to why not? There were none from the DOT. There was no reason why this could not or should not be done. The DOT did state that the section of the road would have to start from a main intersection like Greylock Ridge and end at another. It was also noted that the Greylock extension is not state funded. Meaning, we the taxpayers will pay this bill. So, the DOT noted the Town may not want to use our tax dollars on E. John because the Town is planning to construct Greylock Ridge extension.
A POSSIBLE solution? To pull E. John Street from Greylock Ridge all the way to Matthews Township Parkway into the Town maintained system. This way the Reid House, Matthews Veterinary Clinic, gas stations and everything in-between would be protected. But, most important the character of the Town would be preserved.
It would then be the responsibility of the Town to maintain E. John St. which means speed humps could then be strategically placed along the road thus slowing down traffic. A multi use lane could be installed for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclist. In a article Mayor Taylor stated “I’m not giving up and I don’t think anyone else is giving up.” Well, according to the DOT this is a possible. Gina Hoover
Apparently this was not received well with Mayor Taylor who noted “The idea of taking over any part of John Street was discussed briefly and it was quickly determined that a request like that would be financially irresponsible for the Town. We currently have about 98 miles of roads in Matthews that we maintain and receive Powell Bill funding for.” Interesting, I asked a NCDOT Representative who is very much educated on this project and he had no knowledge of this being discussed with the NCDOT. Commissioner Chris Melton then chimed in questioning “How would we pay for it?” and “What type of long term financial impact on the Town and taxpayers would it have?
My reply; What is the cost to resurface E. John Street? Well I like a good challenge so, after another fun filled day at the DOT I was informed that to resurface E. John Street from Trade to Greylock would roughly cost $250.000.00 which is less than the amount we the taxpayers spent for over twenty years in pursuing Town of Matthews v. Wright for well-connected individuals. Did you know in 2015 the Wrights were awarded $74,500.00 for their attorney’s fees? The Town also spent taxpayer dollars over the sign that Premier Plastic Surgery had installed. Oh, let’s not forget the beach trips, Technology Fund, (Commissioner Melton is in his second term and has purchased three so far) the purchase of alcoholic beverages and the list go on. So if we want to talk about financial impact and irresponsible let’s start here.
What is the Powell Bill Program? “The Powell Bill program helps cities and towns pay for the expansion and improvements of much-needed transportation systems in their communities.” Every time you purchase gas a percentage of the taxes goes towards this program. Funds cannot be used on private roads, but the Town has done this. In 2016 the Town received $767,575.16 and from 2006-2016 the Town has received a total of $8,771,786.58 in Powell Bill funds. Instead they are using scare tactics of how the cost would be so astronomical.
What if it was POSSIBLE for the DOT to completely repair and fix E. John Street and then let the Town take the road over? Would you be interested? Well, I was told that the DOT and municipalities negotiate these deals “all the time”. If E. John Street was negotiated this would leave ten years or more before any repairs would be needed. So again, this is POSSIBLE it just comes down to the Town as to who/what is more important. Money or people? Also, I question if the Town really wants to keep the character of the Town. Have you seen the Matthews Downtown Streetscape plan? If not I suggest you do. As a native of Matthews this breaks my heart to see that the old historical charm will be no more.
On June 14th the DOT held a meeting with Town staff. There are currently two new preliminary designs for E. John Street. I had asked to take a photo but they requested that I not since this is still in planning. Homes along E. John are still in jeopardy which is sad for the homeowners. The DOT will give a fair market value but when the Entertainment District is complete the homes in this area property values will increase and I do not think the Town is looking out for them. The DOT is planning a community meeting in late July or August and just so you know, a patching type resurfacing is suppose to take place by November.
With all this being said, according to the NCODT from the end of 2015 to present approximately $11,000.00 has been spent by the State to maintain E. John Street. Furthermore, when a street is pulled into the Town’s maintained system the town will receive more funds. Let’s say, E. John Street was pulled into the Town maintained system, than why can’t the funds received be set aside for future maintenance? According to the Powell Bill program “A municipality may accumulate funds without penalty until its balance at the end of the fiscal year equals the total of its most recent ten or twenty allocations, whichever applies.”. By commercializing downtown Matthews this will destroy the small town charm. I find it absurd that Mayor Taylor continue’s to say we are doing everything to maintain the character of the Town. I think he need’s to look up the word “maintain” in the dictionary.
Here, let me help. From Dictionary.com – maintain: to keep in existence or continuance; preserve; retain
For the residents living along E. John Street, if you feel this Town has your best interest I would like to remind you of Mr. Neubert Purser. He was the World War II Veteran whose farm was condemned for a park and then the Town denied the condemnation. Or, the Wright family who fought for over twenty years for their property rights. But most importantly do not forget how citizens were being sold out by the Town in 2013.
I highly recommend writing the Governor, NCDOT Secretary of Transportation and the North Carolina Board of Transportation (NCBOT) and tell them how your families will be affected. The the NCBOT is a board of nineteen that have been appointed by the governor and they are the ones who approved project U-4714.
Governor Cooper – https://governor.nc.gov/contact-governor-cooper
James H. Trogdon III – NCDOT firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Town Spending for Fiscal Year 2016/2017 –
Planning Conference & Ocean Isle Beach – Yearly event 2016 – $6,899.06 2017 – $5,616.81
Town Hall Day- This a yearly one day event held by the League of Municipalities in Raleigh – Grand total $6,338.91 this is split between seven municipalities which comes to $905.55 add gas reimbursement to Commissioner Larry Whitley bringing total for 2017 – $1,079.75. We actually got to save $450.00 due to a special being offered. 2016 – $1,322.13
NC Metro Mayors Coalition – for 2016 – $8,009.00 2017 – $8,089.00. From 2014 to present this has cost the taxpayer $28,115.00
Technology Fund – 3,600.00 for each Board member per term. All items purchased are kept by the Board member. Amount spent so far for the 2016/2017 term is…
Commissioner Whitley – $2,405.61
Commissioner Melton – $2,240.90
Commissioner Miller – $2,157.16
Commissioner Ross – $96.29
League of Municipalities – 2016 – $23,715.00 amount due by July 25, 2017 – $22,609.00 From 2015 to current total amount $69,029.00
Operating Budget Town of Matthews for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 – Operating Budget 2017/2018
HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE JULY 4TH!!!! Gina Hoover
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