Rea Road ‘War Zone’ is first step

Improvements on Rea Road include widening the street and adding sidewalks, which has seriously cut some properties.

In May 2003 south Charlotte residents came together to voice their concerns with the condition of Rea Road from Pineville-Matthews to Colony. Fast forward more than nine years, and crews are finally doing something about the busy stretch of road.

The city began buying property from local residents back in 2003 with about 65 easements and right-of-way acquisitions to make way for the expansion and improvements. Now, the $22.5 million project is off and running, and authorities hope it makes the stretch safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Two main issues the improvements are focused on are fixing the sight distance and expanding the road.

To fix part of that, crews are raising portions of Rea from Pineville-Matthews to Colony.  The project will be done in two phases: first from Pineville-Matthews to Carmel Estates Road and then from Carmel Estates to Colony.

“It’s an unsafe road right now,” Imad Fakhreddin, the engineering project manager, said. “There are no sidewalks and the sight distance is very limited.  We are trying to make it safe and build bike lanes.”

Currently, the only part of the project under way is the intersection of Rea Road and Pineville-Matthews to Carmel Estates Road. That should be completed by September 2013, according to Fakhreddin.

Before beginning construction further down the road, utilities need to be relocated so they are not affected by the improvements.

Then, the section of the project from Carmel Estates to Colony is expected to be complete by September 2014.  Clearing for that half of the project has already begun.

In addition to raising the grade to increase visibility for neighborhood entrances along Rea, the city’s engineering and property management team has designed bike lanes, improvements for sidewalks and additional work to make the area more aesthetically pleasing.

Medians and turn lanes will be added to help residents along the road turn in and out of their neighborhoods safely.

The construction currently looks like what Fakhreddin calls a “war zone” because of the construction crew and trees that have been cut down along the road.

“We’re going to clean up the trees, grind them and remove them from sight,” he said.

When the project is complete Rea will have two wider travel lanes, medians with turn lanes, bicycle lanes, curbs, gutters, sidewalks on both sides of the road and a right turn lane at Pineville-Matthews.

Before beginning the project, concerned residents like Joe Ranson worried about the loss of space between their houses and Rea Road, but resigned themselves to coming to terms with the changes, saying they are “just gonna have to live with it.”

While some residents were concerned with the loss of their property others were excited about the improvements, and thought they were much needed.

“It looks kinda dumpy from Highway 51 to Colony Road.  It would be nice if that stretch could look like Colony Road already does,” homeowner Donna Peters told the South Charlotte Weekly when the city first began buying property to expand Rea Road.

“It will be an inconvenience, but in the long run it will be nice.”

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