If you've ever visited the Concord Mills mall, you've probably had to sit in traffic for at least a few minutes. That's because Exit 49 off I-85 is the most congested interchange in Cabarrus County.
Last month, the city of Concord passed a resolution endorsing the construction of an overpass between I-85 and the mall and sidewalks to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Concord's transportation director Joe Wilson says it's critical to ease congestion for all the visitors to the Concord Mills Mall. Forty-two thousand cars pass through Concord Mills Boulevard every day.
"Darn near half the volume that's on the interstate is on that one road in front of the mall," Wilson says. "So the sheer volume of traffic is just tremendous and the one thing that can help it is to separate that conflict maneuver of that left turn into the mall. And this flyover does that."
A two-lane flyover or overpass stretching about a few thousand feet would connect I-85 to the road around the mall to make it easier to enter and exit. Wilson says it will significantly speed up traffic, but the $5 million project depends on federal and state funding. Concord City Council members also endorsed $4 million worth of pedestrian improvements that would add crosswalks, sidewalks, countdown signals and connect the Hector Henry Greenway to restaurants and a dog park.
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett says it would greatly improve quality of life in the area.
"I think taking away the congestion issue will just make it a much more welcoming place to visit and there's also certainly an aspect of this that affects our citizens every day that drive in that area and we obviously want to help everyone," Padgett says.
Padgett says the area around Exit 49, which includes the Concord Mills Mall, Great Wolf Lodge and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, generates more than $30 million in sales taxes for the state each year, so he hopes the state will pitch in to improve the area.
The Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet on January 15 to vote on the project and rank it based on priority.