For the first time, local road leaders seem willing to discuss putting Interstate 485 ahead of Independence Boulevard.
On Thursday at a Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, they talked about sacrificing the widening of Independence for finishing I-485 as if it's a real option -- the first time they’ve publicly seemed open to the idea.
"We're trading to get one thing for another and, to me, the ultimate question comes down to which is more valuable to this region," said Charlotte engineer Jim Keenan.
Many business owners along Independence hope road leaders warm up to the move even more. They want I-485 to cloud the plans for Independence because they're worried that if Independence gets wider, they'll lose customers. Thank you for participating. Which road project would you like to see finished first? Which road project would you like to see finished first? Independence Boulevard Widening Last Leg Of I-485
One said it would put him out of business. Another, John Davis, said, "I'd say the same thing."
But some drivers said they have been waiting years for Independence to get made over. They never pictured I-485's future would interfere with that.
"I'm not worried about 485 -- that's not my concern, 485 has not been my concern. It's always been Independence," Belinda Baker said.
Local leaders didn't make a decision Thursday and they still seem hesitant to neglect Independence. But the fact they're even discussing it is new. There's no word when they plan to make a decision.