Roadway Project Earns First Greenroads® Certification for Charlotte
Published on April 20, 2023
The North Tryon Street Business Corridor project has earned two Bronze Greenroads® certifications from the Greenroads® Foundation. The City of Charlotte built the project and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) maintains it. It’s the city’s first Greenroads®-certified project, the first for NCDOT and the third in North Carolina. The Greenroads® Project Rating Program, developed by the Sustainable Transport Council, “challenges project teams to go above and beyond minimum environmental, social and economic performance measures…,” according to its website.
The $20.3 million project has transformed the North Tryon corridor between Dalton Avenue and 30th Street/Matheson Avenue into a parallel pair of tree-lined one-way streets, North Tryon and North Church Streets, that are safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Traffic-calming features, new sidewalks separated from the road with planted medians, crosswalks and bike lanes were added safety enhancements. Infrastructure improvements included a new 8-inch water line along North Church Street, sewer line upgrades and a massive triple-box culvert to direct storm water. Providing this new water and sewer infrastructure with the project helped setup the area for future development and avoid ripping up the newly constructed streetscape improvements at a later date.
To declutter the corridor, overhead utilities were consolidated from both sides of North Tryon Street to one side. Placemaking features such as decorative lighting, public artwork and an urban farm and garden are fitting additions that engage businesses, motorists and passersby and anchor the corridor.
L to R: Andy Babson, NCDOT representative, Marvin Allen, Mae Bryant, representative from Sealand Construction, Ben Taylor, Joe Harper and Tom Russell
City of Charlotte’s First Sustainable Road Project
The project began early in concept planning and design as a Greenroads® Pilot Project, which enabled the project team to evaluate several innovative land-use and sustainability features, including stormwater infrastructure. City of Charlotte Landscape Management planted over 200 new trees along the roadway and preserved existing trees in the project area. Low-emission construction equipment was used as well as recycled pavement.
The project team had to address the interests of numerous stakeholders, including Norfolk-Southern Railroad, NCDOT, Northend Partners, WSOC Headquarters, Amtrak and private utility companies such as Duke Energy, AT&T, Piedmont Natural Gas and many others. Achieving the one-way pair configuration required easements and/or rights from residents and businesses on 69 parcels and installing a lower storm drainage system in order to significantly reduce the costs and time required for utility relocation.
“A Good Sign” by Wowhaus and Design
An Emphasis on Public Art
The city partnered with the Arts & Science Council to commission artists Ene Osteraas-Constable and Scott Constable of Wowhaus Art and Design on “A Good Sign,” a unique placemaking initiative that integrates artwork and beneficial plantings to help transform the corridor. According to the artists’ statement, “a series of ‘Good Signs of Nature’ highlight native flora and fauna, while two landmark sculptures feature ‘quilts’ made with reclaimed street signs.” Crosswalks along the corridor feature the cardinal, the state bird of North Carolina.
Custom Crosswalk by Wowhaus and Design
Creating Opportunity & Connections
The project is located in the heart of the Graham Street/North Tryon Street Corridor of Opportunity, part of Mayor Vi Lyles’ Racial Equity Initiative that reinvests in six key corridors that are vital to the health and success of Charlotte’s economically disadvantaged communities. The North Tryon Business Corridor is a critical link that connects people to resources and businesses. The project demonstrates the city’s commitment to equitable investment and opportunity and to giving longtime residents the ability to stay in place.
New businesses have opened along the improved corridor and existing businesses are updating or improving their storefronts. New developments are cropping up also; the city identified the Dillehay Hills/Atrium site, located at the northeast end of the project, as one of three catalyst sites for new affordable housing development.
A large portion of construction took place during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses and workplaces were shut down. The project created 223 well-paying construction jobs that were stable despite the historic disruption. The construction team of Sealand Construction and WGR Southeast LLC hired 88% of their workers within 50 miles of the project, and 98% of them were paid prevailing wages.
This project is a poster project for what city Investment can do for an area to bring forward economic revitalization opportunities while minimizing impact to existing businesses.