Residents to get look at new Community House plans

Plans for a roundabout at Community House and Bryant Farms roads in south Charlotte will be back up for discussion next week after city planners decided a single-lane circle wasn’t going to be big enough to handle traffic.

City planners and roundabout designers will meet with area residents and drivers on Aug. 16, a Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. at the Morrison YMCA, 9405 Bryant Farms Road. There, people can find out more about the new and improved roundabout design as well as the other improvements planned for Community House.

When word of a roundabout on the busy roads first came out, a number of residents were concerned the structure either wouldn’t fix traffic back-ups in the area or would just make them worse as people unaccustomed to the circles try to navigate through it. But city planners say a roundabout is the best answer to keep traffic moving in the congested area while trying to keep drivers and pedestrians safe.

“A roundabout was the option of choice for a number of reasons,” Joe Frey, the engineering project manager, said. “Largely because they are shown to be safer, have less accidents and less serious accidents. They’re more efficient in handling vehicles.”

Frey said they aren’t doing the roundabout for any aesthetic reasons, though that is a bonus. The other option at the intersection was signals, and planners believe this will work much better.

“It will let more cars move through at once,” Frey said. “A three-way stop isn’t going to continue to work from a standpoint of capacity.”

But after years of work on the project, planners got some good (and bad) news about Community House. The Bissell Companies recently agreed to extend the road over Interstate 485 – a project the city didn’t think would happen until 2030 or later. Now the project should happen in the next couple years, and will likely bring with it much more traffic as people use Community House to bypass packed Johnston Road during the morning and evening commute.

With that in mind, planners decided a single-lane roundabout wasn’t going to be enough and brought in Alternate Street Design to propose a change. It’s those plans that will be unveiled next Thursday night.

Also up for discussion Thursday are the other improvements planned in the area of the YMCA. Much of that work is aimed at filling in gaps in the sidewalk in the area, where a number of kids walk to school at Ardrey Kell High or to the YMCA. “We got kids walking on the shoulder of the road,” Frey said of the current situation. “We’re very anxious to get the sidewalks in.” A separate project has been under way recently to install a pedestrian beacon and fill in sidewalk gaps closer to the school, near Travis Gulch Drive.

Mike Parks, editor@thecharlotteweekly.com

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