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Uptown Loop Study Identifies Safety Risks

A year-long study of the Uptown loop has been completed and will be presented to City Council Monday night. It's the first step to get funding for improvements to target safety.

Cheryl Myers is the senior vice president for planning and development for Charlotte Center City Partners. In 2011, her group unveiled a set of recommendations to City Council including doing a study of the city's interstate highway system. The city-commissioned Uptown Loop Study is the first comprehensive study of the loop since it was completed in 1981. 

"The reason we did it was so that we could make sure that that facility accommodated the growth and development of Uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods or the Center City for the next 20 or 30 years," Myers says. 

Researchers found that the crash rates at three of its interchanges are up to three times the national average of 102 crashes per 100 million miles of vehicles traveled, according to transportation engineer Radha Krishna Swayampakala, with the consulting firm RS&H. They are the interchanges at Belk/I-77 (300 crashes per 100 million miles of vehicles traveled), Brookshire/I-77 (170-200 crashes) and I-277 /Independence Boulevard (210 crashes).  

These are places where you are forced to quickly weave through at least a couple lanes of traffic. 

"What we are driving on now, is the result of decisions that were in some cases made 50 years ago," says Norman Steinman, planning and design division manager of Charlotte's Department of Transportation.

CDOT worked with highway officials from the state's department of transportation on the study. 

The study's preliminary conclusions and recommendations will be given on Monday night's City Council meeting.  The full study will be released next month.