UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County is trying to make changes to five intersections it says are dangerous, too congested, or need more space for pedestrians.
The decisions welcomed public input in a series of meetings, but not everyone agrees on what the fixes are or if they are even needed.
Ken Adelglass is one Union County business owner unsure of what solution best fits his business and its parking lot.
Adelglass, who owns Carolina Kid Coders, says the intersection near his business can cause an occasional headache.
“Sometimes, when I’m coming in, I can’t get to the turn lane to even turn in. I’m stuck like right by the railroad track, and I’m like two feet away, and it might take me five minutes before I can actually get in,” Adelglass says while laughing.
His business is in a shopping center on the corner of N.C. 75 and Potter Road in Mineral Springs.
The occasional traffic keeps Adelglass from his passion.
“I just enjoy teaching kids. I like working with kids. I enjoy teaching a lot. That’s just something I like doing. It keeps me up, keeps my mind active,” Adelglass says about his work at Carolina Kid Coders.
Back in 2014, Adelglass was fed up with the corporate world.
“I was a computer programmer, web developer for many years,” he says.
While working his nine-to-five job, he realized there were few options to teach his then-teenage son the family trade. So, he felt inspired to create an option.
“My initial idea was to just open — just start a weekly class for kids, but what ended up happening was I was offered space to do summer camps, and from there, I never looked back,” Adelglass adds with a laugh.
Adelglass built his business up with after-school programs, summer camps, and more. Before COVID-19, they’d have nearly 1,000 kids in and out a year. After moving to the Mineral Springs location and the coronavirus pandemic, the number is half what it was, and new construction could make it worse.
“We’ve been hurt by COVID, and if constructions come in, it’s just like — it’s almost like another blow,” Adelglass explains.
Interestingly, Adelglass says he moved his business from Waxhaw to Mineral Springs in November 2019 in part to catch a break from Waxhaw traffic.
Now, his new intersection is one of the five intersections being considered for major improvements in Union County, either with new turn lanes or a roundabout.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the businesses around here and how much it would affect our parking and just getting in our shopping center,” he adds.
Besides a short wait at the intersection, Adelglass says his daily commute is easier, as is the commute of many of his clients. However, he admits it is hard to know for sure since the pandemic hit so quickly after they moved to the new location in the winter of 2019.
At the end of the day, he’s more worried construction could create a bigger hindrance for his customers than the current traffic lights.
“That one is a difficult project because it’s right in downtown. And any improvement that’s done will have an impact on the adjacent property owners; there will be a lot of utilities that have to be moved,” says Union County Senior Planner Bjorn Hansen.
Hansen says all the projects will require careful consideration and might not move forward.
“It really is an opportunity for the locals to decide what kind of investment they want to make. Are these investments worth the downsides both in cost and impacts on the community?” Hansen says.
Where Bonds Grove Church and Waxhaw-Marvin roads meet is another intersection under consideration. Recommended improvements for the intersection include a traffic signal or a roundabout. The Union County website emphasizes the schools nearby, including a high school with young drivers, as part of the reason it is a priority project.
Hansen mentioned that Union County does not own or maintain the roads but works with the county governments and N.C. DOT to prioritize projects and show local partnerships willing to help facilitate improvements, including proactive design plans and cost estimates.
The five intersections represent Phase II of the County’s Critical Intersection Program.
Just last week, the county ended a series of public comment virtual sessions on all five intersection proposals. You can watch the recorded sessions here.
The other three intersections are U.S. 601 at Brief Road, Poplin Road at Unionville-Indian Trail Road, and N.C. 200 at Plyler Mill Road.
The county hopes to have a finalized report on all five intersection proposals by June.
In the meantime, Adelglass will be left wondering what’s going to happen at the corner of N.C. 75 and Potter Road.
“I think turn lanes and maybe just smarter lights might be a better alternative,” Adelglass muses.
There are many options to consider for a county mapping the road ahead.