Comment and analysis on all things Charlotte

A big collision in front of the Wal-Mart on Independence Boulevard

Not sure what’s worse here, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s design for the Independence Blvd/Albemarle Road/Sharon Amity area or the Charlotte Observer’s article out yesterday “Wrecks point out access issues at Independence Walmart store.”

The basic issue is that there’s a new big Wal-Mart near the Albemarle Road exit on outbound Independence. Some people would like to get on Albemarle Road after shopping at Wal-Mart. The Albemarle Road exit is on the left though, so you have to go through four lanes of traffic going (sometimes) 50 miles per hour in a couple hundred feet to make the Albemarle Road turnoff. Sometimes those efforts to get to the Albemarle Road ramp don’t turnout so well.

“That is dangerous,” said Jen Thompson, of the N.C. Department of Transportation. “That area was designed as a right-in, right-out access.”

True enough. But the state also didn’t buy out the shopping centers along the highway and placed a major exit on the left side of the highway. Things might have been OK except had the stores along Independence continued to die out, leaving a big depressed and depressing wasteland but then Wal-Mart had to come in to rejuvenate at least a small part of the area… Things might also be OK if the Walmart were further away from the Albemarle Road exit but state and city transportation officials apparently didn’t recognize the issue or thought it was not as serious as it has turned out to be.

Adding to the problem is that you can’t make a left turnout anymore at Sharon Amity, the next (first) light, so if you want to get to Albemarle Road you have to go all the way to Idlewild and work your way back around via WT Harris. Not sure how the impending Independence rebuild from Sharon Amity to Idlewild will change all that.

Which brings us to the UPoR’s coverage:

Access to Albemarle Road is supposed to be from Pierson Drive, reached from the store’s parking lot. Pierson Drive goes under Independence Boulevard and crosses Albemarle Road a short distance from the Independence-Albemarle interchange.

“It might take a little longer, but it’s safer,” Thompson said.

No, not really. You can take Pierson to get to Independence inbound, but that involves a rather dangerous turn onto Independence. You can even take Pierson to inbound Albemarle Road before it gets to Independence. There’s no quick and easy way to get from Pierson to outbound Albemarle Road though — you can’t make that left anymore. From Pierson, you can continue on and cut through the neighborhood to get to Sharon Amity (or Central Avenue, or Eastway Drive) but I’m pretty sure that isn’t what the city has in mind. And if you don’t have a GPS or don’t know the area, you could get really lost really fast if you try it.

Bonus observation: Observer staff would have caught the error had they made use of the Google Map link that they thoughtfully included with the online version of the story.

3 Responses to “A big collision in front of the Wal-Mart on Independence Boulevard”

  • Nov

    Charlotte is more and more like what I heard about Pittsburgh – They have a phrase “you can’t get there from here” when you ask for directions.

    Love the “but.. but.. there was a study!!!!111!!” excuse. Translation: “Ignore what you’re seeing, we had very intelligent non-biased professionals prove that bumble bees cannot fly”.

    Also, Ms. Thompson’s “fix” is to just reduce the speed on Independence. Yeah, right. All that will do is give people involved in an accident an extra ticket to deal with on top of a horrible tragedy. Another thing: it will tie up police officers doing speed checks in a dangerous area.

  • Nov

    Going all the way back to barricading Reddman Rd, CDOT aided and abetted by NC DOT has strangled East CLT by refusing to add capacity in a timely and rational manner. Instead the gnomes have reduced access and attempted to change behavior.

    Amity/Pierson should’ve been upgraded to a non-commercial blvd with the addition of turn lanes and curbing to help relieve stress on the state roads. Albemarle was 20 yrs. late in getting needed lanes and whole mess derives from the delusion that one day, one magical day, light rail will run down the middle of Hwy 74.

    Oh, and I guess Reddman is now permanently sundered by by a cul-de-sac. Awesome CDOT.

  • Nov

    Hey JAT! Don’t you miss it? 😉

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