Skip to main content

Would/Could the Gaston MPO be the determining factor for the Garden Parkway

It's been listed as their top transportation priority for Gaston County for nearly a decade. But could the organization that has listed the Garden Parkway as #1 on their Long Range Transportation Planning goals be the most important factor in determining if the proposed controversial toll road becomes a reality?

Apparently so.

The Gaston MPO has long been supportive of the project. However, recently revelations on how the project has been built has caused some concern for those on the 13 member panel.

One of the biggest 'red flags' was the announcement that the highway would be built in two segments. From I-485 near Charlotte-Douglass International Airport to US 321 south of Gastonia. And then later, the remainder of the highway from US 321 to I-85 near Bessemer City.

Opponents of the highway, point to the traffic that will be dumped on US 321 and northwards to I-85 through Gastonia, specifically the York-Chester Historic District. This development does have some members of Gastonia's City Council concerned.

Some proponents of the parkway are now looking at ways to build the highway all at once - at a cheaper cost. That includes reducing the highways from six to four lanes - and the elimination of some interchanges.

If the Gaston MPO changes their mind on the Garden Parkway, Turnpike Executive David Joyner said that the NCTA would listen.

"We’re not going to try to go out there and ram a toll road down somebody’s throat that doesn’t want it," said Joyner. "I assure you that."

This would be the second occurrence this year of a Metropolitan Planning Organization determining the fate of a Metro Charlotte highway project. Currently, the Mecklenburg-Union MPO is debating on how to prioritize their group's transportation needs. Their decision will impact at least three projects - the completion of the I-485 Loop, the continuation of upgrading Independence Blvd. to an urban expressway, and the construction of the Monroe Bypass.

Story Link:
Elected leaders could determine fate of proposed Garden Parkway ---Gaston Gazette

Commentary:
What caught my interest in this story is not that the Gaston MPO could seriously put to an end this highway - or on the other hand put to an end the opposition of the route - it is the talk of streamlining or downsizing the highway to get it all built at once.

The talk of eliminating some of the highway's 11 interchanges, and reducing the capacity from six to four lanes caught my interest the most.

The route as proposed - is a toll parallel south of I-85. So basically it is as if I-85 ran through Southern Gaston County vs. where it runs today. Though traffic on I-85 isn't the best, traffic projections and even some common sense show that the highway as tolled doesn't show it as a relief to the Interstate. In other words, why pay a toll to get to the airport or I-485 in the same amount of time that you can do for free.

But what if the toll road was more of an express route - would that change the dynamics? Eliminate interchanges for local use...Keep one at US 321 and maybe one or two others - and make it more of a direct 'express' route to the Airport and I-485.

Would an 'express route' to I-485 and the Charlotte-Douglass make more sense for the toll road? Or does the fact that most of those that would use it for that purpose would have to be residents of Upstate South Carolina or from Cleveland County and west still make it not worthwhile?

Personally, though I like the 'express' route toll road idea more, I can't see how this would change many minds - let alone my own. Plus, that would cause the NCTA to most likely go back to the drawing board - pushing the project further back.

The true key is what the City of Gastonia and County Commissioners think. If the new concerns about the route and the growing sentiment against the Garden Parkway continues to gain momentum, I can see Gaston MPO deciding to de-emphasize the project. It would be a major reversal, but one that isn't improbable.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Relief Route That Wasn't: The Never Built I-70 Bypass in the Mid-Mon Valley

In June 1963, a small blurb in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read that The Westmoreland Engineering Company was awarded a $24,060 bid to study the proposed construction of Interstate 70 in Westmoreland and Washington Counties.  The study was to see what the construction and right-of-way costs "...to modernize the existing highway to Interstate requirements within eight months." (1)  This small, non-attributed, three paragraph article came less than a decade after the completion of a four lane highway that linked the Mid-Mon Valley to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This would be the start of a 15 year process to upgrade and improve Interstate 70 - a process that ultimately never produced a single foot of new highway.

This is the story, albeit brief, of the I-70 that never came about.

Background:
What is now known as Interstate70 from Washington to New Stanton began as a connecting highway for the region to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Known as the "Express Highway", construct…

Independence Boulevard - Charlotte's First Urban Highway

Today, the major pieces of Charlotte's highway network include the Outerbelt (I-485), Interstates 77 and 85, and the Brookshire and Belk Freeways (I-277), but nearly sixty years ago Charlotte's first major urban highway project would begin.  The construction of Independence Boulevard in the 1940s and early 1950s would give Charlotte and North Carolina its first urban expressway, and would usher in a new era of highway building throughout the state.
With the help of former mayor, Ben Douglas - who sat on the State Highway Commission in the 1940s - the push for building Independence Blvd. began.  In 1946, city residents passed a $200,000 bond issue that would go along with over $2 million in federal funding.  The highway would open in two stages in 1949 and 1950.  When a grade separated interchange was built at South Blvd. and Morehead St. in the mid 1950s, Independence Blvd. was completed. (1)  Although the highway was not a fully controlled access highway, it gave motorists an …

The Many Failed Plans of Pittsburgh's Wabash Bridge and Tunnel

The December 27, 2004 opening of the Wabash Tunnel ended over 70 years of proposals and speculation for the use of the over 100 year old facility.  The tunnel, which is now a reversible roadway that is an alternative route for rush hour traffic, saw many failed plans during the 20th Century.  These plans included options for mass transit, converted and new bridges for vehicles, and other forms of transportation.

Brief History:
Constructed in 1902-04, the Wabash Bridge and Tunnel was planned and financed by rail mogul, Jay Gould.  Gould began his "Battle of the Wabash" with the established railroads of the city in 1890.  He would finally emerge victorious, but during that struggle, Gould would see many setbacks that would eventually result in the railroad's bankruptcy in 1908.  On October 19, 1903, when the two ends of the bridge were to be joined together over the Monongahela River, the 109' bridge collapsed; killing ten men.  Construction would resume four days later …