Today’s Friday Five started out as the worst five intersections in the county but as I started thinking about them and talking with people, I realized most of these are bigger issues than just the intersections.

These aren’t ranked in any particular order and are based on personal experience and observance. Your list is likely different depending on where and when you travel.

Number 1

I-85 from N.C. 73 to beyond China Grove – The long overdue expansion currently underway renders this stretch of road almost useless. Most days there are at least a few hours when traffic completely stops.

My advice is simple – avoid I-85 if at all possible. It is dangerous. One vehicle driving too fast, switching lanes carelessly and it can become deadly.

Hopefully when the work is complete the highway will be safer and flow better. It seems to work on most of the interstate south of N.C. 73.

Once upon a time, the intersections of I-85 and Poplar Tent Road and I-85 and N.C. 73 would have made this list. Most people will agree (I know some of you hate it) that the diverging diamond intersections have worked to clear the traffic congestion and make it easier to get on and off the intersections.

Number 2

Concord Parkway/Cabarrus Avenue/Union Cemetery Road – This is primarily an intersection issue. It is a congested area, but has improved some over the years.

It’s been a problem for years, dating back to when Walmart was in the space now occupied by Big Lots. The Ben Mynatt dealerships are on one corner.

“If one more person asks me about that intersection…” was the response I got from Mayor Bernie Edwards. That’s four mayors back (Bill Dusch, Scott Padgett and Dr. George Liles).

The problem is a little different now. The biggest issue is the folks on Union Cemetery refuse to stop when the signal light changes. Nearly every time, three or four cars will keep coming onto Cabarrus Avenue and then left onto Concord Parkway even though the light is green for Cabarrus Avenue traffic. Why is that?

Someone needs to do something about this. If they don’t, one of two things will happen – a big crash or a road rage incident.

Speed trap warning

We’ll move up the road a short bit, but be warned that the speed limit is 45 miles per hour and Concord Police often wait for speeders between Liske Avenue and Kiser’s along Concord Parkway. I’ve seen numerous cars pulled over on that stretch. Good! Anything faster than 45 is too fast.

Don’t worry you won’t go too fast much further.

Number 3

Concord Parkway from Polar Tent/McGill to Mt. Olivet Road on Cannon Boulevard –There are at least four intersections in that stretch that could be stand alone trouble spots.

Let’s start at McGill/Poplar Tent. That intersection is about to get worse with construction beginning. It aims to fix some of the issues.

Traffic backs up on Poplar Tent sometimes as far back as Frye’s Lanes. Overflow from the interstate problems seem to compound the issues. Throw in a train on McGill during rush hour and it’s an even bigger mess.

The real gridlock hits when you get past Lowe’s. Some of it’s construction, but it’s been bad on Concord Parkway from Davidson Highway to I-85 for decades.

Take the intersection of Church Street and Concord Parkway in front of  NorthEast Medical Center. By the way, a hospital official tells us it’s still Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast and not Atrium NorthEast yet.

That intersection is gridlock at times.  The odd curve and distance across the junction leaves cars and trucks stuck underneath the signal lights.

Retired Independent Tribune Publisher John Kennedy once wrote a column about the intersection. It was in The Concord Tribune. He finished up the piece by saying he wrote it while sitting at the intersection waiting for traffic.

There have been improvements in the stretch recently, with the closure of the left turns onto Kannapolis Highway/U.S. 29-A.  It certainly simplified things in front of Golden Corral.

The final piece of this motorist maze is Mt. Olivet Road. Again an odd angle and heavy traffic creates problems.

It’s not unusual for motorists to cut through the Habitat Re-Store parking lot.

Number 4

Concord Mills Boulevard at the Mall – Lot of the issues here are drivers who don’t know where they’re going.

Everybody seems to want to enter the mall at the first entrance. Couple with that people who refuse to obey signs saying “No U-turns” and “In-coming traffic has right-of-way” and you have a bigger traffic jam.

Concord Police have a high presence here and still people refuse to obey the signs.

What really annoys me is when the police stop violators in the middle of the road. Pull them over into a parking lot – don’t block the road. I think this is probably more the motorist stopping than the officers.

Number 5

N.C. 49 in Harrisburg – Lots of signal lights and lots of traffic means lots of congestion and headaches. The bridge opening on Veterans Parkway (Roberta Road extended) relieved some traffic.

I don’t travel this road often, except to cross over to go to Hickory Ridge. People who drive it every day can probably tell you all kinds of horror stories.

Dang it I left one out.

Number 5A

Kannapolis Parkway from I-85 north toward Northwest Cabarrus – Kannapolis Police have their hands full trying to slow traffic and investigate accidents in this stretch.

It’s a common sight to see a collision coming in or out of Afton Ridge and it’s becoming more common at the N.C. 73 intersection. There’s even a sign up that says “Don’t block the intersection.”

It’s only going to get worse with Amazon soon to crank up and apartments and other buildings going up along the parkway.

For good measure let me throw out five more:

Odell School Road - The traffic jam begins at the school and N.C. 73 and then becomes even worse (and dangerous) at the intersection of Highway 3/Mooresville Highway.

Cabarrus Avenue and Branchview – This busy intersection is especially bad at rush hour.

Poplar Tent Road at N.C. 73 (Renaissance Square) – Avoid this area at rush hour too and during the Carolina Renaissance Festival.

U.S. 601 and N.C. 24-27 in Midland – This crossroads is becoming busier and busier as Midland, Locust and Stanfield grow. Some time ask me about calling this the “Hell’s Half Acre” intersection.

Rock Hill Church Road at Concord Parkway – Probably should have put this in with the rest of the Concord Parkway stuff. This goes for all intersections but I am especially reminded of this at this junction. If your signal light is red, that means you need to stop, not blast through faster.

Friday Five follow-ups

  • Total Wine and Ulta are going in the old H.H. Gregg building at Concord Mills.
  • Moe’s Southwestern Grill is a no go in the new shopping center across from Afton Ridge. There is a mattress store instead. Who buys all these mattresses?

Do you have a Friday Five or have a question? Email mplemmons@independenttribune.com.

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