End of the road - Montlieu near HPU closes after July 30

Jul. 05, 2014 @ 03:13 PM

A portion of Montlieu Avenue that has served the community as a roadway for a century will take on a new role after the end of this month.

The half-mile section between Centennial Street and College Avenue will close to through traffic after July 30 to accommodate a major expansion by High Point University. What’s now part of Montlieu, which has served as a road dating back to the early 20th century, will become an entrance and exit for HPU’s new Schools of Health Sciences and Pharmacy.
High Point City Council this past winter approved relinquishing the section of Montlieu to the university, though concerns were raised at hearings about the impact on commuter traffic and the inconvenience for motorists who will have to find alternative routes.
But city elected leaders decided that the imposition on travelers from closing the section of Montlieu is worth the opportunity to gain jobs and development and boost the city’s stature through the university’s more than $100 million expansion. HPU officials earlier this year discussed the possibility of developing the Schools of Health Sciences and Pharmacy outside of High Point if the city couldn’t find a way to accommodate the expansion adjacent to the main campus.
“We are excited to establish these prestigious programs in our city that will not only attract 800 new students and faculty, but will also contribute greatly to the quality of health care and medical research in High Point and around the world,” the university said in a statement to The High Point Enterprise.

Be on alert for the closure

For the past several weeks, the university has collaborated with the city of High Point and Stay Alert Safety Services Inc. on a plan to notify motorists. This week, electronic signs along roads near the campus began flashing messages about the impending closing of the section of Montlieu.
University officials say they also are working with the High Point police and fire departments, Guilford County Emergency Medical Service and other community organizations to inform them about the closure.
“We want to make sure that all motorists have due notice in time to adjust their routes,” said Pamela Haynes, HPU director of media relations.
Site preparation and preliminary work for the Schools of Health Sciences and Pharmacy will begin on the portion of Montlieu immediately following the closing of the section, university officials told the Enterprise.
The most recent traffic count from the city of High Point for the portion of Montlieu shows that approximately 5,000 vehicles a day travel the roadway. University officials contend that a substantial number of the motorists are students, faculty and staff coming to and from HPU.
An administrator for the Guilford County Schools said closing the section of Montlieu won’t cause major disruptions for bus routes.
Four buses have used the portion of Montlieu being closed, said Jeff Harris, director of transportation for the school system. The Guilford County Schools will adjust the routes for the vehicles. 
Harris estimates it will cost less than $4,000 a year in extra fuel for the four buses to take new routes. The school system’s annual expense for bus fuel is $4.5 million.
“It puts about three more miles a day on each bus,” he said. 

Changing the face of what’s now a road

When the university begins work on the expansion, crews will close off what’s now the intersection of Montlieu and Centennial near the former location of the Immaculate Heart of Mary private school.
“It will not be an entrance to campus,” Haynes said.
The entrance and exit onto College will remain. The College and Montlieu intersection will serve HPU visitors, students, faculty and staff, Haynes said.
The university has “no immediate plans” to rename the section of what’s now Montlieu once HPU takes over the property and roadway, she said.
The issue of renaming the section of roadway next to campus came up as a point of concern because of a city ordinance on street names. If the university were to change the name of the section of roadway, it could prompt one of the remaining portions of Montlieu to undergo a renaming as well.
At least one of the remaining segments of Montlieu, either east or west of the closure, might have to be renamed to allow for continuity of street names, city officials said earlier this year.
pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528