Town of Huntersville Transportation Planner, Bill Coxe, described the on-going planning efforts for the subject roadway widening:
Currently, NCDOT's plans are for 12 -14 travel lanes, with the 14-foot outside lane being the "accommodation" for cyclists (think Providence Road). Speed limits are proposed to be 45 mph and up. Volumes of motor vehicles are projected to be high (see attachment).
This is completely contrary to the plan for NC73, which was adopted by the Town of Huntersville in 2005 or 2006 and partially funded by and participated in by NCDOT. An excerpt of the adopted plan is attached. The adopted plan calls for 35mph speeds, 11-foot motor vehicle lanes, and 5-foot bike lanes.
It is also contrary to public feedback on NC73 in the Town of Huntersville Greenways & Bikeways Plan (adopted 2007; see Town of Huntersville website). That plan, however, does not provide a specific recommendation for facility type on NC73, but does indicate that it is a Tier 1 (high priority) corridor for bicycle accomodations.
Finally, it is contrary to a meeting of area cyclists and bicycle/pedestrian professionals that was held with NCDOT and Town of Huntersville staff in the spring of 2007, at which time the focus group clearly recommeded bike lanes for this roadway.
According to Bill, the NCDOT Bike/Ped Division is pushing for wide outside lanes vs. bike lanes or even other alternatives for a bike facility parallel to a highway. Also, NCDOT is unwilling to go below 12 foot travel lanes. Bill said NCDOT's Bike/Ped divisions' position is that since it is going to be such a high volume, high speed corridor that bike lanes would not be appropriate. To me that begs the question of why 1) speeds are going to be allowed to be so high through this urbanized section; and 2) why a more context appropriate and more comprehensive approach to facilitating bicycle travel on this important corridor is not being considered.
It is worth noting that there is a proposed commuter rail station at the eastern end of the proposed widening, so bicycle access will be important for neighborhoods along this corridor. Bike lanes are also recommended on a Town of Huntersville adopted plan for US21, which intersects the proposed widening at the western end.
Organized advocacy from the area's bicycling community and other interested parties needs to focus on NCDOT and the Town of Huntersville.
Can you all organize letter writing campaigns from your respective organizations and/or other groups that you can think of to:
A. Tom Norman, Director, NCDOT Bike/Ped Division: firstname.lastname@example.org; (919) 807-0771
B. Marion Cowell, NCDOT Board of Transportation: Marion A. Cowell, Jr. P. O. Box 36012
Charlotte, NC 28236 704-562-1049 (B)
C. Copy Bill Coxe, Town of Huntersville; bcoxe@ Huntersville.org
D. Copy me or the Martin Zimmerman of CABA so we have a record of correspondence.
I think the ASKs at this point include:
1. Honor the adopted plans for the corridor
2. That NCDOT andTown consider a more appropriate and comprehensive approach to accommodating cyclists and pedestrians in the corridor, including the crossing of NC73 & I-77, which is currently under study;
3. and that a meeting with the cycling community is in order.
There will be a public hearing on the project on February 26th at 6pm at Huntersville Town Hall. Broad attendance from the cycling community at this event would also be helpful.
Thanks for your help.