Uptown Charlotte could look a lot different in five years—not the skyline, the streets. Several one-way streets will become two-way streets under the city’s Center City Transportation Plan, which is scheduled for completion around 2020. The plan will also affect Uptown this summer, when the Charlotte Department of Transportation starts converting a section of Poplar Street to a two-way road.
Ben Bradford spoke with Ashton Watson, project manager at CDOT. Watson says one of the goals is to slow down traffic. First, they discussed the upcoming changes.
WATSON: Poplar is, sort of, the tandem project to go along with Mint Street. [We’re] converting both of those to a two-way operation. (Sections of Mint Street have already been completed.)
BRADFORD: Right, and then in addition to that, Brevard and Caldwell—those are both possible conversions to two-way streets from one-way, as well.
WATSON: That’s right. And, we’ve studied Brevard and Caldwell. We’re ready, as development comes along Brevard and Caldwell, to change those from one-way to two-way.
BRADFORD: What’s the idea behind doing all those. I mean, what’s the master, kind of, vision here?
WATSON: The master vision is that we certainly have some streets in Uptown that are known as our “workhorse streets.” These streets are Third, Fourth, Church, College. These are our workhorse streets. The other streets that we’ve identified as going to two-way, it provides choices for people to travel in both directions, instead of having an increased trip which adds to fuel consumption and vehicle emissions as they circumnavigate the block—
BRADFORD: Right, so basically, right now people are kind of funneled into certain streets because the other streets are one-way.
WATSON: That’s right sometimes when people are driving around the Center City they kind of get stuck, and they’re driving three, four, five blocks out of the way to get back to their destination.
BRADFORD: One of the things in this plan is that it says it’s going to “support pedestrian-oriented development.” So, what does that mean?
WATSON: What that means is that when you look at a one-way street compared to a two-way street, lower traffic speeds are going to occur on the two-way street, which is going to be safer for on-street parking and pedestrians trying to cross the street. And that will, in turn, be more favorable to pedestrian oriented development, such as cafes, mixed use retail sites, and urban parks.
BRADFORD: Ashton, thanks very much for speaking with me.
WATSON: Hey, Ben, thanks.
BRADFORD: Ashton Watson is a project manager for the Charlotte Department of Transportation.