Road expansion project could cost people in Matthews their homes

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will meet Tuesday night with residents in Matthews about a large and costly road expansion project.

The state hopes that widening E. John Street and Old Monroe Road from two lanes to four will relieve congestion. But some worry it will cost neighbors large chunks of their property and in some cases, even their homes.

"An 85-year-old grandmother shouldn't be forced to move," said neighbor Grant Helms. His grandmother has lived in Matthews for 58 years.

"My grandfather was the mayor of Matthews for 10 to 11 years so there are a lot of roots here," he said.

The former first lady of Matthews can’t save her home from the state’s plans, despite the history.

The project would run 6.5 miles through Matthews, Stallings and Indian Trail.

The state thinks it will cost nearly $90 million to widen the road. Road officials told Channel 9 more than half of that money will be used to pay an estimated 13 business owners and 45 homeowners who are expected to lose property.

Some are concerned about the businesses and homes that could be wiped out, while others believe the widening will relieve congestion in the high-traffic area.

The mayor of Indian Trail said many voters who approved a bond in 2011 to help pay for the project wanted these infrastructure improvements years ago.

Matthews’ mayor said he’s still concerned about the look and the feel of the project.

The state will field those concerns Tuesday night and take input from the community during an open house before they draft their final expansion plans.

"They already have the funds going to be set aside for 2020, so I think it's just a done deal," Helms said.

Neighbors worry it’s too late to save their homes, even though road construction isn’t expected to start until 2022.

"When the state comes and knocks on your door and says it's time to move, I mean, imminent domain right? You gotta move on out," Helms said.

The open house runs from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Stallings United Methodist Church in Matthews.

It will be followed by a formal presentation at 7 p.m.