City bonds could open new routes to Research Park jobs, sidewalks to light-rail stops and bikeways to downtown!

bonds graphicYour vote this election could reshape how we get around in University City and Charlotte. The last item on the ballot is a city bonds request to fund transportation, neighborhood and housing improvements. Among projects directly benefiting University City:

  • Cut rush-hour traffic on Harris Boulevard and Mallard Creek Church Road by building two bridges across I-85.
  • Maximize benefits of the coming light-rail line by improving nearby streets, sidewalks and bikeways.
  • Create a safe way to bike and walk downtown and beyond by linking existing greenways into a single Cross-County Path.

The city bond proposal includes $110.96 million for transportation projects, $20 million for neighborhood improvements and $15 million for housing for low- to moderate-income residents. The bonds will require no new taxes.

In this article, we focus on three projects that will bring much needed connections between University Research Park, the coming light-rail line on North Tryon Street and downtown. These projects also offer major benefits to pedestrians and cyclists.

Bridges over I-85 to ease rush-hour congestion

Morning rush-hour traffic on W.T. Harris Blvd

West W.T. Harris Boulevard and Mallard Creek Church Road carry more daily traffic than most interstate highways – more than 60,000 vehicles per day on Harris near I-85, and more than 50,000 vehicles per day on Mallard Creek Church Road near I-85. Most people who commute to jobs in University Research Park or pass through University City during rush hour say the traffic is challenging.

The number of vehicles has increased over the past year with several companies moving into the research park or expanding their operations. The master plan for University Research Park envisions significantly more development including housing and retail.

Where will all the additional vehicles go? Charlotte planners have three related answers: provide new ways for people to get in and out of the research park; give URP employees good access to the future light-rail line on North Tryon Street; and provide safe ways for more people to bike to work. Two proposed bridges over I-85 would serve all three needs.

Construction of I-85 bridge (south) – The 2014 bond package includes $15.1 million to build a new bridge over I-85 between IBM Drive in the Research Park and University Pointe Boulevard in the Belgate / IKEA retail development. This bridge would relieve rush-hour congestion on Harris Boulevard and Mallard Creek Church Road, provide new opportunities for business growth within the Research Park and provide new and faster connect between the URP businesses, future light rail stations and nearby residential and retail areas around the new Walmart. Why faster? Because the bridge would not have an I-85 interchange to slow things down. The lack of merging traffic means that the bridge can also have safe bike and pedestrian lanes.

Planning for I-85 bridge (north) – The 2014 bond package includes $3 million to plan a second new bridge over I-85. Another city bond package currently scheduled for 2016 would include money to build the bridge. This project would link University Place and the research park via a roadway that starts near the Oasis Shrine building in University Place, crosses I-85 and flows into Research Drive via Louis Rose Place.

This new bridge and road would provide additional connectivity between the Research Park, UNC Charlotte and the future Blue Line Extension station on North Tryon Street as well as the shops, housing and services in University Place. Like the I-85 south bridge, this bridge would lack an I-85 interchange – a big benefit to pedestrian and bike traffic flowing out of UNC Charlotte.

Northeast Corridor Improvements for light rail

The original Blue Line has led to an estimated $1.5 billion in private investment.

The coming Blue Line Extension light-rail line between Center City Charlotte and University City will cost more than $1 billion to build. Yet to reap the biggest benefit from the line and its nine transit stations, city planners say that Charlotte must spend another $102 million on street improvements, sidewalks, bike lanes and other amenities. A similar public investment around stations on the original Blue Line is credited with helping spur more than $1.5 billion in private investment, much of it in housing.

That investment mirrors trends nationwide, Charlotte transportations planners noted in a report this spring on development occurring near Blue Line stations. “A recent Urban Land Institute survey found that, among Americans planning to move within the next five years, 62 percent prefer neighborhoods close to shops, restaurants and office. Nearly as many, 59 percent, would prefer a shorter commute with a smaller home,“ they wrote.

The Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Program (NECI) has two major goals:

  • Provide pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular connections to light rail stations.
  • Provide infrastructure to support and encourage transit supportive development.

Many of the recommended changes came from community meetings that helped create official development guides for land near each station. This year’s bond package includes $16.6 million for NECI projects. A proposed bond package in 2016 would generate another $35.4 million. The rest would come via planned bond packages in 2018 and 2020.

  • NECI UPDATE MEETINGS – City staff will give updates on improvements around each BLE station and on the light-rail project at meetings  6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church and Oct. 29 at Hampton Park Community Center. LEARN MORE

Cross-Charlotte Multi-Use Trail

The Cross-Charlotte trail would link University City Greenways to downtown and SC

Imagine getting on your bicycle and riding from Mallard Creek or UNC Charlotte all the way to downtown Charlotte and beyond to York County. That could happen in the next few years, if voters approve funds to plan and build the 26-mile Cross-Charlotte Multi-Use Trail. The project would link and upgrade several existing greenways, including our Toby, Mallard and Clark’s Creek greenways.

This fall’s bonds include $5 million for planning. The next bond package in two years would include about $30 million in funding to build the project. VIEW MAP

Learn more and get involved

Learn more about city bonds at and at

Help get the bonds passed. The group that promotes these bonds can use your help to spread the word and encourage others to vote. CLICK HERE for details or contact Elizabeth Barnhardt, Campaign Coordinator, at 704-649-7008 or

Vote Oct. 23-Nov. 1 and Nov. 4

EARLY VOTING Oct. 23-Nov. 1 – Early voting is offered Oct. 23-Nov. 1 at 21 locations around Mecklenburg County including University City Regional Library, 301 East W.T. Harris Blvd, near Carolinas Medical Center-University. Early-voting hours at all locations except the CPCC main campus on 7th Street are as follows:

  • Weekdays Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 27-31, 10 a.m.-7 pm;
  • Saturdays Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, 10 am-1 pm;
  • Sunday Oct. 26, 1-4 pm.

ELECTION DAY Nov. 4 – Polls are open 6:30 am-7:30 pm

MORE VOTER INFORMATION – To learn where you vote on Nov. 4, for early-voting details, and for other elections information, call the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections 8 am-5 pm weekdays at 704-336-2133 or visit the Board of Elections website.


Receive Up to Date News

Receive Economic Development News

View Past Newsletters

View Post by Category

Press Releases

Meet our new intern, Haley Chilcott

Haley Chilcott is our new Marketing Communications Intern here at University City Partners. Haley is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is majoring in Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations. After graduation...

University City Partners welcomes our newest board members

  University City Partners welcomes its newest members of the UCP Board of Directors: Charlotte City Manager Marcus Smith and Michael Fung, a regional leader for Wells Fargo's Corporate Properties Group. The University City Partners Board of Directors consists of...

Response to tragic police incident and unrest

Last night our community was at the center of a tragic police incident followed by several hours of demonstration, aggressive agitation and unrest. Our neighborhoods, businesses, retail centers and institutions were impacted with activity that has left us all feeling...

Introducing our UNC Charlotte interns

University City Partners is proud to introduce our "Class of 2016" - our fall semester interns from UNC Charlotte. Seniors Hollis Maye-Keye and Cagney Reeves will help us with communications and planning - key functions for our success. We encourage you to consider...

UCP video report: Planning for our transit-powered future

University City Partners has launched a new feature - a monthly video report on how we are investing time and resources to build University City. Today's report: UCP is leading a planning effort to make the area around the future JW Clay Transit station a more...

Our 2016 Annual Report chronicles a landmark year

The dramatic changes taking place across University City can be hard to keep up with - unless you have the University City Partners annual report. Our brand new 2016 University City Partners Annual Report chronicles these changes over the past year (July 2015-June...

University City Partners welcomes new board members

University City Partners welcomes four new members to its board of directors, including two UNC Charlotte grads. Tracy Dodson with Lincoln Harris, John McAlister with Electrolux, Phil Nicholenko with TIAA and Jane Wu, founder of Carolina States Regional Center, have...

Thanks for taking our survey; we heard you!

Our recent invitation to take a brief survey about University City Partners drew more than 100 participants and many useful responses. ”The survey was like a pulse check to make sure that what we are hearing in our meetings also represents the opinions of all of the...

University City Partners adds planning & development director

Tobe Holmes has joined University City Partners as its planning and development director. Holmes, formerly with Center City Partners, will oversee all UCP planning and development initiatives. At Center City Partners, Holmes managed economic and community development...

Meet our UNC Charlotte interns

One benefit of having UNC Charlotte nearby is the amazing wealth of student interns. We landed three of the best this semester: Meredith Avant (Communications with PR concentration), Miguel Avila (Economics with innovation focus), and Charles Trowell (Architecture...