In the Fall of 2010, Charlotte became one of just four cities to be awarded the Daniel Rose Fellowship for Public Leadership in Land Use. This fellowship is made possible by the Daniel Rose Center of ULI, and assists local officials with a land use issue in the community. Charlotte’s Mayor Anthony Foxx identified the Independence Blvd. Corridor as a high priority. A panel of transportation and land use planning experts visited Charlotte in January and made a set of recommendations they believed will advance transportation discussions and new development along the corridor.
Throughout the past year, ULI has facilitated conversations to discuss the recommendations with community representatives and local officials. The recommendations were as follows:
- Continue to plan for rail transit in the Southeast Corridor
- Remove the option for rail transit in the center of Independence Blvd.
- Instead of extending the busway in the center of the highway, use that space for HOT lanes and operate express/enhanced bus routes in the HOT lanes.
- Plan fewer transit stops for the buses utilizing the HOT lanes on Independence Blvd.
- When funding is available, construct a streetcar along Monroe Road.
- Consider the use of HOT lane toll revenues that exceed operating costs for expanding and improving the transit service using the HOT lanes.
The Independence Area Plan, while an integral part of the corridor, is based on the premise that Independence Blvd. is a major highway, carrying local, regional and intrastate traffic, and much of the car-oriented, strip development that occurred along the corridor over the past 60 years will not be sustainable as traffic volumes continue to grow. Accordingly, the Plan provides for the retention and rejuvenation of commercial land uses at nodes along the roadway, and re-orienting other areas to the adjacent neighborhoods.
In order to implement these recommendations, the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) needed to amend the 2030 Transit Systems Plan; MUMPO would add HOT lanes with facilities for enhanced bus service to the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP); and with expanded rail transit in the corridor, MUMPO would add the additional rail project to the LRTP.
The difficult, fiscal reality is that current transit revenues will not provide for any new transit – BRT or LRT – in the southeast corridor for at least 25 years. The strategy recommended by the ULI Rose Fellowship does not remove rail transit from the corridor, but adds to it through the additional benefits of HOT lanes and enhanced, express bus service in the corridor for the interim period before rail transit can become a reality. The NCDOT can begin the planning and design for the ultimate configuration of Independence Blvd. knowing the costs for right of way will be minimized. And finally, the Panel believes removal of the uncertainty about modes of transit in the corridor and the ultimate configuration of Independence Blvd. will encourage land owners, developers, and commercial tenants to make decisions toward rejuvenation, growth and economic vitality for the east side.
As the fellowship comes to a close, we would like to thanks those individuals that served on the Charlotte fellowship team included: Mayor Anthony Foxx, Secretary Gene Conti, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Debra Campbell, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department Director, Danny Pleasant, Charlotte Department of Transportation Director, and Jim Schumacher, Charlotte Assistant City Manager.