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NCDOT's Robert Woodard at Charlotte East Chamber meeting

A state widening program for Independence Boulevard appears to be primarily based on getting people in and out of uptown, with very little regard for the businesses that will fall by the wayside, say East Charlotte residents and business owners. The Charlotte Chamber's East Chapter this week hosted the NCDOT?s Robert Woodard(above) and Neil Burleson at a luncheon at the VanLandingham Estate, where both were peppered with questions from a sometimes testy (if civil) crowd of business owners, concerned citizens, and property owners.

The Chamber's Charlotte East Chapter luncheon at the VanLandingham Estate

The state, using federal guidelines, attempts to give businesses the same options for relocation afforded homeowners, Robert says. But the widening project?s planning phases stretch back almost two decades, and the uncertainty has been painful, according to Keith Corp.?s Alan Marshall. Before year's end, a widening of a 1.5-mile leg of Independence Boulevard is set to begin east of North Sharon Amity Road. About 150 businesses will need to relocate because of the $152M project, and many have simply shuttered their doors in frustration. The goal is to expand the roadway to 10 lanes, including two HOV lanes. Construction should take about three years.