STEELE CREEK NEWS
Study Underway for
New Gaston Connector
Involves new interchange
at I-485 and West Boulevard
(February 4, 2006) Highway improvements are needed throughout North Carolina,
but funding is hard to come by. One alternative being considered is
to build new highways as toll roads.
The North Carolina Turnpike Authority is studying the feasibility of
building a number of toll roads within the state. One of these is
the Gaston County East-West Connector, also known as the Garden
Parkway. This proposed road would connect I-85 west of Gastonia to
I-485 in Mecklenburg County. The 16 alternative routes under study
run south of Gastonia and cross the Catawba River into the northern edge of the
Steele Creek community.
The proposed new highway would connect to the new West Boulevard
alignment south of the airport.
West Boulevard is being realigned because of planned expansion to
the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. The airport is adding a fourth
runway on the west side of the airport. Also, an extension of the
existing western runway will require realignment of West Boulevard south
to the current location of Byrum Drive. West Boulevard would continue west to
connect to the interchange on
I-485 that currently is not being
Additionally, Dixie Road and Wallace Neal Road will be displaced by
the new runway. The airport is required to provide an alternate
route around the west side of the airport. This route will follow
the new West Boulevard alignment across I-485 and
connect up to additional new and improved roads to provide access to
Walkers Ferry Road and Old Dowd Road to the north. Once these roads
are completed, the unused interchange on I-485 will open up.
See previous story on the
Dixie-Berryhill Thoroughfare Plan for a
map of approved new road alignments.
Planners have identified several potential corridors for the new
Gaston Connector. These are about 1400 feet wide. The eventual 350
foot right-of-way will lie somewhere within these corridors.
The Mecklenburg County portion includes at least three alternative
corridors. All three end just south of the I-485 interchange for the
new West Boulevard extension. The eventual design of this area could
look like the following:
The Garden Parkway
will tie in to West Boulevard, where it will change from an
expressway to a local road.
- The previously realigned West Boulevard to the north will be retained as a local
road, providing a non-expressway access to areas west of I-485.
- A new interchange will be built for Garden Parkway at I-485.
This will be a large interchange with ramps in several levels that
is typical of interchanges at two expressways.
- The existing but currently unused interchange for the new West Boulevard will
- An additional interchange will be built on Garden Parkway at Dixie
Illustration of Possible,
Approximate Road and Interchange Locations
described above would provide access across I-485 on local roads so
that motorists would not need to get on the parkway. However, it is
only a possibility.
The selection of
the preferred alternative route for the Gaston Connector is
scheduled for fall 2008, and the final decision likely will not be
made until 2010. Right-of-way acquisition and construction currently
is unfunded and will not occur until at least after the final
decision on the route.
The North Carolina
Turnpike Authority and the North Carolina Department of
Transportation held a series of workshops last week, including one
at Olympic High School. They had several large-scale maps of the
study area and staff were available to answer questions. They had
comment forms available and encouraged input.
information, see the North Carolina Department of Transportation's
Gaston County East-West Connector web page. Comments can
be made through this site. You also can sign up for the study
mailing list so you can keep informed about future workshops and
other opportunities to find out about plans and to offer comments.