As a 20-year resident of Cornelius who has watched the traffic on Catawba Avenue from Town Hall to I-77 grow into long lines of cars backing up from the intersection at US 21, I was deeply interested in attending the public meeting held by NCDOT this past Wednesday evening at Cornelius Town Hall.


The open-house-style meeting was held in the community room. Displays were setup showing the preferred design of dual roundabouts diverting traffic both north and south on US 21 to create a smooth traffic flow by eliminating the left turn lanes. Sean Epperson, division project team lead from NCDOT, and his team along with Jenny Noonkester, project manager at RS&H, Inc, and her team were there to listen to residents’ concerns and explain how the new design would work.


Sean Epperson

Sean Epperson, Division Project Team Lead from NCDOT, explains the proposed improvements to U.S. 21

Over 60 people attended, and in general, there were more negative reactions than positive ones. People were unhappy about having to drive farther to make a left turn onto US 21 going south or onto Holiday Lane going north. People were concerned about the impact on the neighborhoods from increased traffic that would be diverted from Catawba and on the businesses located on US 21. Cornelius resident Kemo Brooks said, “I’ve always been against the roundabouts. I like my neighborhood. To see it be destroyed for something that wouldn’t help the traffic….”


Illustration of how the roundabouts would work on U.S. 21. Drivers, in order to make a left-hand turn, would have to drive past the light at Catawba, turn around, go back to the intersection, and then turn right.


But Epperson insisted that the roundabouts would be more efficient: “This project will require you to drive farther but you will spend less time waiting at the intersection and you will ultimately save time.” The time savings is estimated to be 3 to 8 minutes based upon projected traffic demands over the next two decades.


Whether I agree with the proposed solution or not, I have to admire Sean Epperson; he stood there patiently listening to a man getting increasingly angry about his tax dollars being wasted and even proposed new solutions, such as removing the diverging diamond and installing multiple roundabouts.


Ann Fauci, also a resident of Cornelius, summed it up, “They have to do something. I’m hoping this will be a positive step.”


Weren’t able to attend? View the handout and contact information at: