MATTHEWS, NC (WBTV) - Residents in Matthews are fighting against a plan to build a "super street" right through the heart of their historic downtown. NCDOT is slated to widen nearly seven miles of road through Stallings, Indian Trail, and Matthews.
Mayor Jim Taylor worries the current plan could take away the charm they've worked so hard to build.
"It's beautiful. It's charming. It has the look and feel of a small town that everyone seems to love. The super street concept does not fit with the desires of the town of Matthews," Taylor told WBTV.
NCDOT has long planned to expand a 6.5 mile stretch of East John Street and Old Monroe Road. But their "super street" proposal wasn't announced till last fall.
A four-lane road with massive concrete medians is not what Taylor says his walkable town needs. They've hired a consultant hoping to come up with a plan of their own to bring to NCDOT.
"We want to soften it up, make it pedestrian friendly. Make it pretty. The medians would be nice grass, have a lot of trees in there," Taylor said.
Paul O'Shaughnessy moved his family to Matthews because of the quaint feel and ability to walk to and from so many destinations.
"A widening is one thing. We know there's a traffic issue we need to deal with but going five times as wide in some places and doubling the speed through the historic downtown is a big concern," O'Shaughnessy said.
O'Shaughnessy is part of the "Smarter Streets, not Super Streets" Facebook group that spent the weekend handing out flyers asking people to sign a petition to stop the project.
"What came out of the proposal was far more aggressive than anything we could have imagined," he said.
O'Shaughnessy hopes the town can offer NCDOT a better plan that will keep people on Matthews sidewalks and in its shops.
"We'd really like to grow that and protect that, not destroy that," O'Shaughnessy said.
The town council is expected to hear a final proposal from their consultant in March. Taylor says NCDOT has expressed a willingness to work with them.
Wednesday afternoon, NCDOT provided a statement to WBTV:
"NCDOT is committed to the safety of all who travel the John Street corridor. The department is continuing to work with the Town of Matthews' leaders, staff and the community regarding the proposed widening of John Street/Old Monroe Road. Based on feedback from the Town, NCDOT has made some design changes, including smaller travel lanes in the downtown area. The proposed synchronized street concept is a proven design that saves lives, reducing both severe and fatal crashes. NCDOT will continue to collaborate with the Town moving forward."
To see the petition, click here.
To read NCDOT's plan, click here.