Preliminary Need & Purpose

A draft Need and Purpose statement will be developed as part of the Catawba Crossings Feasibility Study. Transportation projects are intended to meet an important purpose and need. Therefore, decision-makers on any Federal-aid project requires justification to support both the expenditure of taxpayers’ money and the environmental impacts involved.

A project’s Statement of Need and Purpose explains to the decisionmakers, the public, and the stakeholders why the proposed project should be implemented. The purpose element of the statement explains the problem the project is intended to address. The need element includes the data substantiating that a problem currently exists or is likely to occur. The purpose and need is the starting point for developing any necessary alternatives.

NOTE:  The following project need and purpose statements are preliminary and subject to change. The Project’s need will be refined based on traffic projections and operational analysis; through input from the community and stakeholders; and through coordination with resource and regulatory agencies.

Need Statement (Preliminary):

The Catawba River creates a barrier between western Mecklenburg County (NC) and southeastern Gaston County (NC) and northeastern York County (SC).  Considering the existing transportation deficiencies and the amount of future development planned in the region, there is a significant need to address congestion, increase mobility options, improve the vitality and resiliency of the regional transportation network, and enhance quality of life standards (e.g., reduced travel time).

The identified transportation needs include:

  • Additional east-west connectivity within and between Gaston and Mecklenburg counties which will also accommodate trips to and from York County;
  • Improved network resiliency to accommodate residents, commuters, commerce, and emergency response;
  • Additional mobility and transportation options to alleviate congestion in the network; and
  • Equitable access to jobs, services, and recreational opportunities.

Purpose Statement (Preliminary):

The purpose of the Project is to improve mobility within and between Gaston, Mecklenburg and York counties by providing an additional connection over the Catawba River in an environmentally sensitive manner that establishes direct access to other regional transportation facilities, including the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

  • The Project is expected to have secondary benefits including:
    • improved and expanded multimodal connections;
    • improved level of service (LOS) capacity on adjacent transportation corridors including US 29/74;
    • improved response times and access for emergency response; and
    • greater access and connections to jobs, services, and recreational opportunities.

Transportation Term Definitions (US Department of Transportation)

Accessibility:  The ease of reaching valued destinations, such as jobs, shops, schools, entertainment, and recreation.

Connectivity:  How a roadway network connects destinations.

Mobility:  At its simplest, the ability to access goods, services, and destinations.

Reliability: the degree of certainty and predictability in travel times on the transportation system.


Accessibility, connectivity, and mobility are interrelated terms that ultimately measure the transportation systems ability to influence the public’s quality of life. These measures – and possibly others – will be used in the refinement of the project’s need and purpose.

Connectivity describes how well a roadway network connects physical destinations and can be measured differently for motorized and nonmotorized travel (e.g., a trail or multiuse path could improve nonmotorized connectivity but not motorized). A well-connected roadway network would have many short links, numerous intersections, and few if any dead ends (e.g., cul-de-sac). As connectivity improves, travel distances will decrease and routing options increase, allowing more direct travel between destinations.

Accessibility and mobility are closely related transportation terms with mobility being the broader of the two concepts. Mobility refers to the movement of goods and people. Mobility can be measured in terms of travel times, level of traffic congestion, or duration of congestion – all of which focus on how long it takes to get from place to place. The ability to move freely provides increased opportunities for people and businesses to interact with each other, earn a living, visit friends and family, and take advantage of recreational opportunities. A mobile society also implies transportation choices, or availability of travel options, which may include different routes or modes of travel, such as transit, bicycling, and walking, so that people of all ages and abilities have access to options for work and recreation.

Accessibility refers to the ability to reach desired goods, services, activities and destinations. Driving, walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit provide access to jobs, services and other activities. Access is the ultimate goal of most transportation projects. Individuals often evaluate accessibility in terms of convenience, that is the ease with which they can reach what they want.

Some useful links / resources referenced in the above discussion and available for further information regarding these and other transportation planning-related terms and concepts include:

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