CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – When you exit from I-77 onto Trade Street in West Charlotte, this is the view: Barren land, empty state-owned property, and a lot of traffic.
Now imagine if this was the view when exiting I-77 — a vibrant area complete with businesses and plenty of green space for people to enjoy.
“It will be a huge help because right now, if you come under the bridge, it’s like you’re leaving the development of Uptown, and you come into an area that hasn’t been invested in,” said Charles Thomas, Charlotte director, with the Knight Foundation.
Before people fighting for a better West End Charlotte can make this a reality; there needs to be something done with I-77. The interstate was constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and a study is looking at the clover interchanges, which hold so much empty space.
“We are working to see if there is the potential to realign those to still meet the needs of the facility,” added Katie Witherspoon, a transportation planner with the Charlotte Department of Transportation. “But align better with community goals and to reclaims some of that potential land.”
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The study’s money comes in the form of a grant from the federal government’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot program. Charlotte received one million dollars, and other organizations also used matching funds.
“What we want to do is to continue to create affordable spaces for residents to still be able to live,” adds Thomas. “But also, to create the economic impact that the rest of the city is seeing.”
NCDOT is also on board with the study, and if the first million provides results. The hope is to get more money from the pilot program to make this empty space eventually turn into this destination point.
“We’re thrilled because it’s a highly competitive grant,” said Thomas. “We’re competing with cities across the country and that means this corridor is competing with cities across this country.”
If you want to see more of the 5 points of Forward vision, click the link.
CDOT says the study will take between 12 to 18 months.