John Street Widening Project


The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is currently developing plans to widen East John Street to alleviate traffic congestion. The project will widen 6.5 miles of East John Street to a four-lane road from Matthews to Indian Trail.

The Town of Matthews continues to work with the NCDOT to improve the design and mitigate adverse effects on citizens and on the character of the town. 
While traffic congestion is a major concern in the community, it is a top priority for the Mayor and Board of Commissioners to preserve the small town character of downtown Matthews. East John Street runs through the heart of the historic downtown, and if not properly designed the road project could create a major divide between the downtown core and Stumptown Park, Matthews Community Center, McDowell Arts Center and Matthews Elementary School.

The NCDOT has a preliminary timeline to begin construction in 2021. More information about the project can be found on the NCDOT website:

The most up-to-date design plan can be viewed here:  [U-4714 E John St Revised Map 7-27-17.pdf].


Recent Updates

*This is an ongoing effort and this page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. 

March 11, 2019 - The Town submitted a formal request to delay the project in January 2019. NCDOT has informed the Town will need to submit a letter to the MPO Board of the  CRTPO requesting an amendment to do so. The Town has submitted that request. During an update given at the Town Board Meeting on March 11, NCDOT has indicated that a delay may be possible. 
January 14, 2019 - Mayor Paul Bailey sent a letter to NCDOT Division Engineer Scott Cole detailing the Working Group's progress and requesting to delay the Matthews portion of the John Street project. Delaying the project would provide more time to work on the design details and enable other projects near John Street to be completed allowing traffic to rebalance after other roadway improvements provide better alternative routes. The letter also requested NCDOT consider re-prioritizing major projects in Matthews based on need and staggering construction so that all main roadways are not a construction zone at the same time. Read the complete letter here. Mayor Bailey is planning to meet with NCDOT officials to discuss this further in the near future.

December 12, 2018 - The Board of Commissioners voted to take the following actions regarding the John Street project:
- Ask NCDOT to delay the project until after the I-485 Widening (I-5507), McKee Road Section A (U-4713A), Independence Boulevard Widening (U-2509) and Matthews Township Parkway Road Widening (U-5763).
- Begin a discussion with NCDOT about the two-lane concept developed by the Working Group. 
December 5, 2018  - The next John Street Working Group meeting was held at 6:15 p.m. at Matthews Town Hall. The group reviewed the results of the public input meeting (held on November 5) and discussed next steps. 

November 5, 2018 - A John Street Community Meeting was held on Monday, November 5 at 6:00 p.m. at Matthews Town Hall to gather input from the community. Those in attendance and watching remotely via Facebook Live participated in live polling to answer questions and give their input. There was also a public comment period. The video of the meeting can be viewed here: If you were unable to attend, please watch the video of the meeting and give your input via an online survey. The video prompts you to log on to; however that was a live poll used during the meeting. The ttpoll has now closed. You may give your input by taking the online survey (survey is now closed). Please click "Submit Written Comments" above to provide input. 

August 16, 2018 - Mayor Paul Bailey wrote an oped in The Matthews Mint Hill Weekly: "Working group making progress on John Street."

August 7, 2018 The John Street Working Group met and continued their discussion on an alternative design. Click here to read the minutes and view the supporting documents from this meetingClick here to view a concept sketch of the Working Group's idea. The group reached consensus on the following elements:

1. Medians:
23’ wide where possible without significant encroachment on property, with a preference for the 23' medians at each “ends” of the project; i.e., near 51 and 485.
17’ wide elsewhere

2. Planting Strips between road and sidewalk/multi-use path:
8’ wide where possible, and preferably 8’ wide between the road and the sidewalk.
minimum of 4’ wide elsewhere.

3. Multi-Use Path:
10’ wide
Preference for a safe crossing to the north side of the road at/near current greenway boardwalk.

4. Limited left turn options, with exception of major intersections.

5. One 11’ wide vehicle lane in each direction.

June 21, 2018 - The Town of Matthews received the results of the NCDOT traffic analysis. Letter from NCDOT. Addendum to Traffic Operations Technical Memo.

June 19, 2018 - The third meeting of the working group was held. The group continued the discussion on an alternative design for E. John Street. The next meeting of the working group is scheduled for Tuesday, August 7.  Click here to read the minutes from the meeting 

May 30, 2018 - The second meeting of the working group was held. The members split into groups and designed their own version of E. John Street. The groups thought about things like encouraging traffic to go around Matthews, rather than through it; improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists; minimizing the impact on homeowners and business owners, and preserving Matthews' small town feel. The third meeting will now be held on Tuesday, June 19 (rescheduled from June 13).  Click here to read the minutes from the meeting. 

May 15, 2018 - The first of three meetings focused on reaching consensus on the proposed NCDOT widening of E. John Street was held at Matthews Town Hall. A 20 person group of community members including the Matthews Board of Commissioners, Transportation Advisory Council, citizens, and Matthews Town staff, met for over two hours. The working group received a status update and timeline overview of the project by Public Works Director CJ O’Neill and then participated in a facilitated discussion. Each participant listed pros and cons of the current design for the project. Click here to read the minutes from the meeting.

May 9, 2018 The Town of Matthews announced the Board of Commissioners will hold a series of meetings with a group of community members to discuss the proposed NCDOT widening of John Street. The objective is to reach local consensus on the project. These discussions are open to the public and will be held from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at the Matthews Town Hall on the following dates:
Tuesday, May 15 (written comments from the public accepted)
Wednesday, May 30 
Wednesday, June 13 (public comment period) *Rescheduled to June 19
Tuesday, June 19

March 12, 2018 - NCDOT announced they will be doing some Geotechnical Engineering work along portions of E. John Street. Residents and business owners along E. John will notice crews working on or in close proximity to their property. The purpose of the work is to gather information to assist in construction recommendations for the proposed roadway project. Please click here to read the letter in its entirety

January 8, 2018 - Mayor Paul Bailey and the Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to not approve a proposed joint resolution, in conjunction with the Towns of Stallings and Indian Trail, regarding the widening of E. John Street. While the Board appreciated the desire to have a unified voice to NCDOT, the majority questioned whether the project will be needed once all other road projects in the area are completed. Some Board members expressed concern that asking NCDOT to implement specific improvements and/or to consider a unified design for the project would indicate continued support for improvements to John Street. The Board of Commissioners is currently more focused on receiving results from the updated traffic impact analysis that incorporate all upcoming road improvement projects in the area to determine if the project is still justified. The preference from the Board was to instead sit down with NCDOT and continue to discuss what is best for Matthews, as well as Stallings and Indian Trail, as more information becomes available.

September 28, 2017 - The Town of Matthews received a response letter from NCDOT stating that they will complete an updated traffic analysis for the E. John Street project to include all roadway projects in the Matthews area that are funded at this time. Click here to read the letter in its entirety

August 14, 2017 - During a meeting of the Matthews Board of Commissioners, the Board voted (6-0) to send a letter to NCDOT requesting that an expanded traffic analysis be completed as it relates to the widening of East John Street. Only projects that are fully funded may be considered as part of an analysis, thus the initial traffic analysis was completed without consideration of the widening of U.S. 74 and the expansion of McKee Road. The letter states, in part: “With both the U.S. 74 and McKee Road Extension projects now funded and given the persistent questions regarding the true necessity of the E. John Street Widening Project once all funded area projects are included in a traffic analysis, we respectfully request that the NCDOT rerun the traffic analysis for the E. John Street Widening Project to include these and any other missing funded projects before commencing any additional work.” Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

July 31, 2017 - NCDOT held a project update meeting on Monday, July 31 at Matthews Town Hall. Scott Cole, Deputy Division Engineer from NCDOT, presented an updated map [U-4714 E John St Revised Map 7-27-17.pdf]. Click here to view a copy of the PowerPoint presentation that explains the changes made to the design plan. A video of the presentation can be viewed here

June 19, 2017: The Town of Matthews received a letter from NCDOT indicating they will accommodate many of the requests made regarding specific design elements of the project. 

Mayor Jim Taylor responded with a statement: “We are pleased with the response from NCDOT indicating they will accommodate many of our requests as they continue their plan to widen East John Street. There will not be a Superstreet in downtown Matthews. All along, we have said we want to work collaboratively with NCDOT to develop a positive outcome for Matthews and its residents. The safety of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists is the top priority. We believe the changes made to NCDOT’s plan will not only enhance safety but will also preserve the historic and walkable downtown core and minimize the impact on homes along East John Street. We appreciate the input from so many of Matthew’s residents. Town staff, myself, and the entire Town Board will continue our efforts to work together with NCDOT as this project progresses.”  Click here to read the letter from NCDOT.

April 24, 2017: Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor wrote an opinion piece about this issue in The Matthews Mint Hill Weekly: Working Together on Long-Term Traffic Solutions in Matthews

March 31, 2017 - The Town of Matthews 
received a response letter from NCDOT stating in part: "We believe that we can provide a design satisfying purpose and need, meeting operational expectations, and accommodating pedestrian safety and mobility by partnering with the Town to find the best fit solution with context sensitivity." NCDOT agreed to meet with Town leaders to discuss concerns with the current design concept. 

March 24, 2017 - Town officials sent a resolution to NCDOT expressing concerns with the design concept. 

Frequently Asked Questions



What is a Superstreet?

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), a Superstreet is the term used to describe a non-traditional intersection in which left turns are prohibited, all side-street traffic must turn right and then access a U-turn to proceed in their desired direction. The original NCDOT design plan would have widened a 6.5 mile portion of East John Street and Old Monroe Road to four lanes with a median using the Superstreet concept. The Town of Matthews voiced their opposition to the Superstreet and in June 2017, NCDOT stated they have made changes to the design plan to accommodate the Town's requests. The revised design no longer includes the Superstreet concept, however left turns will still only be permitted at traffic signals. The most up-to-date design plan can be viewed here:  [U-4714 E John St Revised Map 7-27-17.pdf].

Why isn’t the Town of Matthews doing more to prevent this road project?
East John Street is a state road maintained by NCDOT. Since NCDOT began planning the design to widen the road, the Town of Matthews has been working with NCDOT to achieve the best possible outcome for Matthews and its residents. The Town has communicated the desire to: preserve the small town character of Matthews, ensure the safety of all pedestrians and cyclists, eliminate or minimize the size of pavement for U-turns, keep trucks out of downtown, and explore all options to save homes along East John Street. The Town advocated for certain full-movement signalized intersections (such as Trade and John Street now) that allow left turns, and for aesthetically pleasing streetscapes that help reduce speeding. NCDOT has agreed to accommodate many of the Town's requests. Other design elements and safety features of the road continue to be negotiated between NCDOT and the Town of Matthews to provide the most appropriate final solution for the downtown Matthews area. In August, Town officials requested NCDOT rerun the traffic analysis to include what impact the widening of US 74 and the expansion of McKee Road, as well as any other funded projects, to consider the true necessity of this project. The Town Board also  began a John Street Working Group to develop an alternative to the NCDOT's proposal. 

When will construction begin?
NCDOT currently projects construction to begin in 2021. It is expected to take 2.5-3 years to complete the entire 6.5 mile section of the road.

Will residents of East John Street lose their homes?
NCDOT’s current plan does include taking some homes along East John Street. The exact impact remains unknown at this time.  NCDOT’s final design of the road improvements will determine whether houses will be taken and which houses will be impacted. North Carolina state law requires that owners be compensated the just value of any land or structures that are acquired as part of a roadway improvement project. Any agreements of this type will be between NCDOT and property owners.

Why can’t traffic be diverted to Independence Blvd. and I-485?
The widening of East John Street is just one part of a plan to manage traffic problems in our area. Several other transportation projects are in the works, including the extension of McKee Road, widening of Independence Boulevard, widening of NC-51, completion of Independence Pointe Parkway and Northeast Parkway, addition of the Weddington Road/I-485 interchange, and eventually the extension of the Lynx Silver Line to Matthews.

In August 2017, Town officials requested that NCDOT rerun the traffic analysis to include what impact the widening of US 74 and the expansion of McKee Road, as well as any other funded projects, to consider the true necessity of this project.

Won’t these road improvements just increase traffic on East John Street? 
You may have heard a statement along the lines of, “If you build it, they will come – so don’t build it” as a solution to concerns with the East John Street widening project. However, traffic congestion is already a major concern throughout this region – not just Matthews – and it is only expected to worsen as the population in the area continues to grow exponentially.

According to Livable Meck, conservative projections show Mecklenburg County’s population doubling to over two million residents by 2050. That’s about twice as many cars on all major roads compared to current rates. Neighboring Union County is also one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina (currently ranked #7) and that growth will add significantly more cars to the road. 

There are a number of routes to take to reach uptown Charlotte from outlying areas and East John Street/Old Monroe Road has been one of these arterial roads for decades. Approximately 22,000 motorists currently travel East John Street daily and that number will continue to increase as the population in the region grows. NCDOT has identified the need to improve East John Street to help address the increased growth in the region. The project is not expected to fix congestion, rather it is meant to ease congestion and better accommodate the increased number of motorists that are anticipated in future years.

The Town of Matthews supports improving East John Street to better accommodate all modes of transportation and is working with NCDOT to reach an agreement that will be most appropriate for the downtown Matthews area.   

Why can’t a “road diet” be implemented (similar to what has been done on
 East Boulevard)?
A “road diet” is the term used to describe converting a four lane road to two vehicle lanes, incorporating bicycle lanes and intermittent center turn lanes with landscaped islands. East Boulevard, for example, went from a four lane road to a two lane road during a major transportation project completed in 2011. East Boulevard, a street maintained by the City of Charlotte, was a good candidate for a road diet because the total number of motorists traveling the road per day (less than 20,000) and the amount of traffic on the road at any given time is more consistent throughout the day.

East John Street is currently two lanes, meaning a road diet is not an option that can be considered. Additionally the number of motorists traveling East John Street already exceeds the number recommended for a roadway with features like East Boulevard to be effective, and traffic on East John Street is peak driven, meaning how many cars are on the road varies greatly depending on the time of day (i.e. during morning and evening commutes it is extremely heavy, while it is less traveled at other times). Implementing the same features of East Boulevard on East John Street would not resolve current congestion complaints.

Have reversible lanes been considered?
Yes. However, reversible lanes create a number of safety concerns, including an increase in the number of potential traffic conflicts because they often confuse drivers or are used incorrectly. Vertical barriers, gates, and frequent overhead signage can help minimize these traffic conflicts but they are unsightly and costly to maintain. Overall, reversible lanes are most successful in corridors with limited access points (i.e. few driveways and side roads). When combined, these factors prevent reversible lanes from being a good option for East John Street.

The location of East John Street further prevents reversible lanes from being a viable option. During commute times, drivers are heading through this area in multiple directions – some are heading east through downtown Matthews to get to I-485, while others are heading west to take Old Monroe Road toward uptown Charlotte. This creates overall congestion instead of congestion in one direction, making reversible travel lanes unfeasible as a solution to ease traffic flow.

The Town of Matthews supports improving East John Street to better accommodate all modes of transportation and is working with NCDOT to reach an agreement that will be most appropriate for the downtown Matthews area.   

Does the Town of Matthews support making East John a Complete Street?
Yes. A Complete Street is a designed roadway that allows for the safe use of the road by all users – cars, pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit riders. The design plan for East John Street includes these features, including a multi-use path for pedestrians and 



Town of Matthews, North Carolina


Town of Matthews
232 Matthews Station St.
Matthews, NC 28105

Phone (704) 847-4411
Fax (704) 845-1964


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