MATTHEWS, N.C. --
A road designed to ease traffic for thousands of drivers each day may cut off access to an area in Matthews for police and firefighters.
Town officials said they are concerned that the Monroe Bypass will block access to Independence Commerce Drive and the more than 200 people who work in the area off that road.
"Our public safety issue is our main concern right now," Mayor of Matthews Jim Taylor said.
Currently, Independence Commerce Drive connects directly to Independence Boulevard. According to the owner of an office park on that road, Roger Martin, 15 businesses are located there, employing approximately 100 people.
Several more people work in nearby businesses also affected by the bypass.
"It's definitely a concern," Martin said. "There's been some lost sleep over it."
Taylor said the shortest detour has twists and turns that are impossible for a fire truck to navigate, forcing emergency services to take a roundabout route.
"Service in the area would be delayed by two, three, four minutes because of having to go around the long way," Taylor said.
But the mayor said he and other local officials have been working on a solution. Regional transportation officials from the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization are scheduled to take a closer look at the proposal Wednesday night.
Taylor said Matthews currently has federal funds approved to extend a section of McKee Road. He said the solution would build a different section of McKee Road and connect it to Steven Mills Road.
Martin said that would give emergency responders more direct access and put his own mind at ease.
"I'm pretty optimistic at this point," Martin said. "I believe we have everyone's attention."
If MUMPO shows its support for the proposal Wednesday night, it will still need support from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.
Regional transportation officials said a final decision will most likely come this summer.
Construction is scheduled to begin on the bypass in October.
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