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NC 218 improvements financing may benefit from some quick thinking

NC 218 has become a 'Monroe Bypass' by default, and as a result the rural Union County highway is starting to show some wear in addition to safety deficiencies. So there's a plan to improve it.

Resurface 30 miles of highway, widen the roadway to 24 feet (from 20-22 feet), build turning lanes at various major intersections (US 601, NC 200 and 205.)

Cost: $15.5 million.

Not a big deal, right? Well, the Charlotte Division of NCDOT (Division 10) is about $14 million short in funds to start the project this year.

So the division's engineer, Barry Moose, came up with the suggestion that some of the funds come from a project to add additional lanes to US 601. Well this proposal didn't sit to well with Monroe City Council. In fact, they passed a resolution against the idea.

Their concern is that the wider US 601 will be needed when the real US 74 Monroe Bypass is built. (which, quite honestly, no one has a clue on when that actually will see the light of day - unfortunately.)

Now normally, this is where my commentary on the situation would begin...but we're not done. By a struck of good fortune and also good management, a Charlotte highway project is going to come close to $10 million under budget. (Cheers to Mr. Moose and Division 10. With construction costs as they are...and the state of highway financing within NC...finishing a project $10 million under budget is a great accomplishment.) The $10 million covers nearly 2/3rds of the cost for the NC 218 improvements.

Mr. Moose would get the remainder of the funds from pushing back a rural project in Anson County that has been lowered in the region's priority list.

The Charlotte Region's Planning Organization (Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) is scheduled to review Moose's suggestion later this month. This plan has the support of the Monroe City Council...as long as they still keep widening US 601 on track.

Story: Charlotte Observer

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