Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor wrote an opinion piece in The Matthews Mint Hill Weekly about the NCDOT's proposal to widen East John Street.
One of the best things about living in Matthews is our historic and vibrant downtown area. In recent years, the downtown has experienced a bit of a revitalization with the opening of several new shops and restaurants. Together with these new attractions, perennial favorites like Renfrow’s Hardware, the Community Farmers Market, and our popular town events including Matthews Alive – thousands of people from across the region are visiting downtown Matthews. Just beyond downtown, Matthews and our neighboring towns have seen an explosion of growth. It is indeed an exciting time for our area. However, with growth comes challenges. The traffic and congestion through our town has become a major challenge and is the number one complaint of Matthews’ citizens.
There are several transportation projects in the works to reduce traffic, including the extension of McKee Road, the widening of Independence Boulevard, the addition of the Weddington Road/485 interchange, and eventually the extension of the Lynx Silver Line to Matthews.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has also announced plans to widen East John Street which runs through the heart of downtown Matthews. The current design plan, known as a “Superstreet,” would widen a 6.5 mile portion of the road to include four lanes and a median, with limited availability to make left turns. The design also includes large “loons” which would be the only way for cars and trucks to make U-turns. The Town of Matthews is opposed to the Superstreet concept and has been working with NCDOT to find an alternative solution.
The Town of Matthews does not control this stretch of roadway, so unfortunately there are limitations to what we can do. However, NCDOT has expressed interest in working together to develop the best possible design. We have communicated our desire to: preserve the small-town character of Matthews, ensure the safety of all pedestrians and cyclists, eliminate or minimize the size of the loons, keep trucks out of downtown, and explore all options to save homes along East John Street. We want traditional intersections that allow left turns, and we want aesthetically pleasing streetscapes – not a “sea of asphalt.” After all, a tree-lined median sure looks nice – but more importantly, it helps slow down cars.
We want to work together to achieve the best possible outcome for the citizens of Matthews. Our goal is to preserve the historic and walkable downtown core while mitigating as many negative impacts on citizens as possible. Please visit www.matthewsnc.gov for more information.
Jim Taylor has served as mayor of Matthews since 2009.