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Neighborhood Bonds will Support Steele Creek Projects

(October 17, 2016) The November 2016 ballot for Charlotte city residents will include three bond referenda. One of them, for Neighborhoods, will provide funding to continue the planning and development for several projects for the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program (CNIP) in Steele Creek. The three bond referenda are

Transportation Bonds  ($148,440,000) will fund street and intersection projects, upgrades to traffic control systems, repairs to and replacements of bridges, construction of new bridges, development of Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT), and measures to improve pedestrian safety.

Projects include Dixie Berryhill area roads. Create transportation infrastructure to support and promote economic development around the Airport Intermodal Facility as well as provide needed access and improvements to underdeveloped land west of the Airport and I-485 to facilitate future economic development of the area.
Housing Bonds ($15,000,000) will provide affordable and well-maintained housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families that addresses a continuum of housing needs from homelessness to homeownership.  
Neighborhood Bonds ($55,000,000) will improve infrastructure in established neighborhoods showing signs of distress and emerging high-growth areas in need of connectivity. Infrastructure improvements include sidewalks, streetscape, curbs and gutters, storm drainage, landscaping, and pedestrian lighting.

These bonds will provide funding to continue planning for the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program in the Whitehall/Ayrsley area of Steele Creek.

For more information on the bonds, see Vote Yes for City Bonds. To check your voter registration and view your sample ballot, see NC Public Voter Search. Note that Early Voting begins on Thursday, October 20. See Steele Creek Early Voting Site Moves to York Ridge Shopping Center.

Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program

The Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program (CNIP) makes strategic investments in several neighborhood geographies in Charlotte that will promote highly connected networks of streets, bikeways, sidewalks, and greenway trails. Of the $55,000,000 Neighborhood bonds, $40,000,000 is for the original five CNIP areas. The additional $15,000,000 is for other neighborhood projects such as bike and trail connector projects as well as the addition of the South Park CNIP area. Funding for CNIP will come from bonds approved in 2014, the 2016 Neighborhood bonds, and additional bonds planned for 2018 and 2020. 

One of the CNIP geographies is the emerging high-growth Whitehall/Ayrsley area of Steele Creek. The Whitehall/Ayrsley area is slated for $30,000,000 in improvements over the four bond cycles. The map below shows the six projects announced by city staff at a meeting on September 29, 2015. To view a more detailed map showing the CNIP projects, click HERE or on the map.

The six projects are:

South Tryon Street/Whitehall Park Drive/Ayrsley Town Boulevard Intersection Improvements

Provide pedestrian improvements along the south leg of the intersection. Improvements may include striped crosswalk, pedestrian signals, and pedestrian refuge area within the existing median.

The intersection already has marked crosswalks with signals on the other three legs of the intersection. This improvement should be completed quickly as it should require little planning, design, and construction. This project will be coordinated with the Ayrsley Town Boulevard traffic calming. The estimated cost is $1 million, but this is a placeholder estimate in case additional lanes or other improvements are deemed necessary.

Ayrsley Town Boulevard Traffic Calming

Provide traffic calming measures along Ayrsley Town Boulevard. Traffic calming measures and other improvements may include adding curb extensions, restriping to two lanes from the first cross driveways to the theater entrance, adding crosswalks, and adding reverse angle parking.

Improvements are being designed by city staff. Planning should be complete by the end of the year, and the projects should be put out to bid in 2017. Estimated cost is $500,000.

Sandy Porter Road Upgrades

Upgrade roadway from South Tryon Street to Williams Glenn Road with planted median, intermittent left turn lanes, curb and gutter, bike lanes, planting strip, and sidewalk on both sides of the road.

The picture to the right is an example of a two-lane road with a median and other improvements. To see additional pictures of example projects, click HERE or on the image to the right.

In late 2016 or 2017, residents in neighborhoods adjacent to Sandy Porter Road should be receiving information on community meetings where they will have an opportunity to provide input into the design of the improvements. The project could take up to five years to complete.

Estimated cost is $16.1 million.

Brown-Grier Road/West Arrowood Road Upgrades

Upgrade roadway from Steele Creek Road to Whitehall Park Drive with planted median, intermittent left turn lanes, curb and gutter, bike lanes, planting strip, and sidewalk on both sides of the road.

In late 2016 or 2017, residents in neighborhoods adjacent to Brown Grier Road and West Arrowood Road should be receiving information on community meetings where they will have an opportunity to provide input into the design of the improvements. The project could take up to five years to complete.

Estimated cost is $8.2 million.

Westinghouse Boulevard Sidewalk

Construct either sidewalks (6 feet) or multi-use paths (10 feet) along one side of Westinghouse Boulevard from South Tryon Street to Shopton Road West.

Planning for this project likely will occur after planning for the road improvement projects. Estimated cost is $4.1 million

Steele Creek Greenway

Construct a multi-use path and wayfinding emblems along Steele Creek from Westinghouse Boulevard to Steele Creek Neighborhood Park or Olympic High School.

Estimated cost of this project is $3.5 million.

However, greenways are the responsibility of the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, and the greenway trail would be built on county property or easements. In order for bond money to pay for this project, the wording of the bond issue would have to be written to allow expenditures of city money on county property. Alternatively, the city could encourage the county to increase the priority of this project among its planned greenways. The Steele Creek Greenway, however, is low on the county's priority list.

The Steele Creek Greenway could be one of the last CNIP projects to be started or may be dropped altogether. Although this project would not typically be the responsibility of the city, planners included it in the project list because it had significant support from the community, and they hope to work with county staff to make it happen.

Public Art

Approximately half of 1% of the cost of Charlotte capital projects is reserved for public art, so there will be artwork included in the roadways and other projects. Estimated cost is $180,000.

Steele Creek Road Widening

This project received significant support from the community, but since Steele Creek Road is a state highway, improvements are the responsibility of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and cannot be included in the CNIP.

Construction of a four-lane road with a median, sidewalks, and bike lanes along Steele Creek Road (NC Highway 160) between Shopton Road West and South Tryon Street is planned as part of the North Carolina State Transportation Improvement Program. Right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation is scheduled to begin in 2020, and construction is scheduled for 2022 and 2023. See Highway 160 Projects Approved by FHWA. Additionally, in October 2016 NCDOT announced that it is recommending funding to widen Highway 160 from South Tryon Street to the South Carolina state line on the same schedule as that part north of South Tryon Street. See NCDOT Recommends Funding to Widen Hwy 160 to State Line

Alternate Funding and Adjacent Projects

When private development occurs, the developers typically are required to provide road improvements, which may include road widening, curbs, sidewalks, and left turn lanes. CNIP staff will coordinate with developers to ensure that improvements they make are consistent with the goals of the CNIP projects. Additionally, if private funding pays for some infrastructure improvements that would have been part of CNIP, funds may be freed up to add additional projects to the CNIP list.

Apartments are under construction at the corner of Sandy Porter Road and Brown-Grier Road. Developers will be required to contribute to road and sidewalk improvements on adjacent streets. The city also recently announced a project to build some sidewalks on Brown-Griers Road and Gallant Lane between adjacent neighborhoods and schools. (See Sidewalks Planned on Brown-Grier Road and Gallant Lane (April 7, 2015.) These will be coordinated with CNIP projects planned along Brown-Grier Road and Sandy Porter Road.

Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program Overview

Charlotte identified five neighborhoods across the city where it planned to make strategic investments to address a broad array of community needs as part of its Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program (CNIP). One of these areas was designated "Whitehall/Ayrsley." It covered areas of northern Steele Creek located between I-485 and Westinghouse Boulevard. Over the next several years, the city expects to plan, design, and implement $120 million in proposed community improvements in these five areas, including $30 million in the Whitehall-Ayrsley target area. The South Park area have been added to the original five areas.

Projects will be funded through Neighborhood Improvement Bonds. Voters approved the first $20 million bond in 2014, and a $40 million bond is on the 2016 ballot. Additional bond issues are planned in , 2018 ($40 million), and 2020 ($20 million).

At the first Whitehall/Ayrsley neighborhood meeting in March 2015, residents marked up maps with notes and stickers to identify areas where improvements to roads, intersections, sidewalks, trails, parks, and other infrastructure are needed.

At the second community meeting in April, project representatives presented a list of 59 potential projects and asked attendees to identify the 10 that they believed were the most important. City and consultant staff tallied the responses to identify the six projects that have been selected to move forward and presented these at the September 29 meeting. In some cases, projects on the list were combined (for example, road improvements, sidewalks, and intersection improvements along the same road). Click here to view the Public Meeting Boards that were presented at the September 29 meeting.

Where new apartments, single-family neighborhoods, or other development occurs along the project roadways, developers may be required to contribute towards project planning, construction, or other costs.

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