Posted on Thursday August 16, 2018
This opinion piece written by Mayor Paul Bailey appeared in the August 16, 2018 edition of the Matthews Mint Hill Weekly
By Mayor Paul Bailey
Matthews is a place that people want to visit, work, enjoy and live. The growth in Matthews in the last 30 years presents challenges to maintaining our small town feel. As your mayor, I understand that each step we take puts an imprint on the future.
There is no doubt that traffic in Matthews is a problem. NCDOT recognizes this too and there are a number of road projects slated for construction in the next few years: I-485 Express Lanes and the addition of an interchange at Weddington Road; N.C. 51 widening; U.S. 74 widening and Express Lanes; McKee Road extension; and several more. Visit www.matthewsnc.gov/roadprojects for more information.
One of the most controversial road projects, the John Street/Old Monroe Road Widening, runs through the heart of our downtown corridor. This project has the potential to significantly change our historic downtown. The original road design put forth by NCDOT was met with criticism and, for some, outrage. I had a similar reaction. I do not support a road project that will adversely affect the character of our town. Thankfully, NCDOT worked with the town to make changes to its initial design. However, there is still more work to do.
The Matthews Board of Commissioners has formed a working group to discuss ideas and options for the John Street corridor. This group is comprised of the board of commissioners, members of the Matthews Transportation Advisory Committee, citizens and Matthews town staff. The objective is to reach local consensus on the project and present that to NCDOT for their consideration. This group has met four times, and I have been very pleased with the productive discussion. All of these meetings are open to the public. Citizens are invited to provide written comments at the meeting or on the town website (www.matthewsnc.gov).
One of the discussion items for the working group has been the focus on sending commuter traffic around Matthews, rather than through it, as well as safe pedestrian and bike paths. The working group has also reached consensus on the desire for two vehicle lanes with the addition of turning lanes, not the four lanes that NCDOT has proposed. Town staff produced a comprehensive rendering of what John Street would look like using the vision of the working group. The working group reviewed this at our most recent meeting, and agreed on moving forward with this vision.
The next steps for the working group include presenting the Matthews vision for John Street to NCDOT. Based on NCDOT’s feedback, the working group will determine what, if any, negotiations may need to occur from there. The working group will also be gathering public input on their vision and evaluate if the plan is something the community can support. Please keep an eye out for these meeting announcements in the coming weeks and months, as public input will be vital to this process.
I invite you to please join me on the first Saturday of each month at Jonathan’s Restaurant to discuss this or any other issue. The discussion is open and anyone is welcome. The next meeting is Sept. 8 at 8 a.m. (second Saturday of the month in September due to Matthews Alive on Aug 31 to Sept 3).
For more information, please visit www.matthewsnc.gov/eastjohnstreet.
Paul Bailey is mayor of Matthews.