Drivers who use Rea Road north of N.C. 51 will see some changes in the next few weeks as Charlotte crews continue work on a project that was years in the making.
Construction crews are continuing to work on the section of Rea Road between N.C. 51 and Stallworth Drive, and project manager Imad Fakhreddin said landscaping work should begin in the area in February. Meanwhile, crews with AT&T are working to relocate underground cables north of Stallworth Drive in preparation to complete the next segment of work, which extends to Carmel Estate Road.
“The overall work on the project meets the current completion schedule of fall 2014,” Fakhreddin said in an email to South Charlotte Weekly. That’s despite the fact that utility relocation and frequent rain delayed the project, and Fakhreddin said the contractor is currently in “liquidated damages,” or a penalty for being behind schedule, for the section of road.
While the project will still take a few months to complete, that’s a better option for many residents who have waited years for the proposed Rea Road widening project to start. Planning for the widening started in 2002, and $22.5 million in funding was approved for the project in the November 2008 bond. Construction on the road finally started this summer.
“Rea Road-area residents are anxious to see the final product and they have been patient during construction,” Fakhreddin said, adding that some residents have expressed concerns about drivers speeding on the temporary road that is in place while widening work is done, as well as the need for continuous maintenance of the road during construction.
Once finished, the project will have reworked a section of Rea Road that many had complained about being too dangerous and too congested. Sight lines will be improved, which will make it safer for drivers pulling into and out of side roads. Safety will be improved for pedestrians and cyclists thanks to the addition of sidewalks, street lights, planted medians and bicycle lanes. And designated left turn lanes into side streets and the additional through lane and right turn lane at N.C. 51 will improve traffic congestion.
“When completed, this section of Rea Road will provide safe transportation choices for area residents and commuters,” Fakhreddin said. “Pedestrians will have a sidewalk connection between (South County Regional Library) at N.C. 51 and the shopping center at the Colony Road/Rea Road intersection. Bicycle riders will enjoy the continuation of the bike lane on Colony Road south to the intersection with N.C. 51.”
The project is 60 percent complete, with the dual left turn lanes on N.C. 51 and a 60-inch storm drainage culvert between Shadow Pond Lane and MacAndrew Drive finished. Work on the bridge is progressing, according to a news release from the city, and will include a sidewalk and bicycle lanes with decorative stone and pedestrian lights when finished. The bridge also will be high enough for animals to pass underneath to help alleviate concerns of animals crossing Rea Road in front of traffic.
The city also is in conversations with the Carson’s Pond neighborhood homeowners’ association, which will construct a wall along their subdivision.