INC NEWS - [pac2] Column: Go for the big fish to stop a sea of traffic problems (Durham News)
bragin at nc.rr.com
Sat Jan 20 14:23:41 EST 2007
My understanding, and someone i'm sure will correct me if i'm wrong, is
that the Secretary of Transportation is an appointed position, and a
significant percentage of NCDOT's revenues are not part of the general
budget, but are generated by gas taxes, highway taxes, and vehicle
registration fees. There is significantly less leverage in the
legislature than there is in other budget areas.
There is also an appointed Board of Transportation, with members from
each of the states divisions represented. This is where Ken Spaulding
fits into the picture.
scjdurham at aol.com wrote:
> I remember a couple years back when there was a televised
> presentation featuring the NCDOT, it's plans and the 'challenges'
> these plans were creating in regard to neighborhood concerns.
> I called in and asked 2 questions regarding the dedicated turn lane
> and it's effect on the
> Duke Park neighborhood. I don't recall my exact wording. All that I
> remember is Secretary Tippett was an accomplished tapdancer who spoke
> quite eloquently but didn't address either of my questions.
> I'm not on any of the traffic advisory or study boards or I'd probably
> already know this but my thought is: What is the chain of command in
> the overall hierachy of North Carolina State government? Who pulls
> Secretary Tippett's chain and what is their position on this seemingly
> wanton destruction of the safety and quality of life of our walkable
> In North Carolina's over arching plan to better our state, which is
> higher on the priority list, laying more asphalt or creating safer
> healthier places for people to live.
> cheryl Shiflett
> -----Original Message-----
> From: bragin at nc.rr.com
> To: pac2 at yahoogroups.com; durhambikeandped at yahoogroups.com;
> inc-list at durhaminc.org; dukepark at yahoogroups.com; kenspaulding at nc.rr.com
> Sent: Sat, 20 Jan 2007 9:59 AM
> Subject: Re: INC NEWS - [pac2] Column: Go for the big fish to stop a
> sea of traffic problems (Durham News)
> John - thanks for posting this. I ran into Frank last night at Culture
> Crawl and we had a good conversation about this piece.
> Two points i'd like to make, though. First, on Roxboro St. north of the
> the Knox St. intersection, NCDOT has added two lanes, one northbound in
> addition to the so-called right hand turn lane southbound. Further down
> the hill at the overpass itself, Roxboro widens to 7 lanes.
> The second point is that in 2001 and 2002, when community opposition to
> the proposed design was at its greatest, DPNA, with the support of
> Durham City Council, County Commissioners, and the regional MPO had the
> opportunity to present our case directly to Secretary Lyndo Tippett at a
> special meeting at City Hall. About 20 Duke Park residents spoke about
> how ridiculous and dangerous the new design would be, and the
> deleterious effects it would have on our neighborhood. As i recall, i
> presented some statistical information from transportation planning
> guidelines which indicated what percentage and volume of traffic making
> a right hand turn would be needed to justify building a dedicated lane.
> I asked District 5 engineer Jon Nance to provide the data showing that
> level of traffic was present at Roxboro and Knox St. Mr. Nance was
> unable to provide any traffic counts for that intersection because, as
> he put it, the counting equipment had malfunctioned. At that time i
> entered the results of a hand count which i had done into the
> discussion, which showed that the percentage and number of cars making a
> right hand turn into the neighborhood fell far short of the guidelines
> under which a dedicated turn lane could be justified.
> Unfortunately, Durham at the time was represented on the Transportation
> Board by Mr. Ty Cox, who did not see it as his job so much to represent
> Durham citizens as to kowtow to the staff of NCDOT. I am certain that
> Mr. Spaulding, who has been a forceful advocate for the East End
> Connector, would have been a better representative of our needs.
> At that point, Secretary Tippett ruled that the intersection would be
> built as designed, effectively leaving the neighborhood with no further
> options for changing this. The solution for crossing Roxboro St., as
> presented by Mr. Nance, was to head north on Roxboro to the bottom of
> the hill, where there would be a signal at the collector/distributor,
> cross the 7 lanes of traffic, including right-on-reds from northbound
> Roxboro to the c/d,, and from the c/d to southbound Roxboro, then walk
> back up the hill to Knox St. As Frank mentions, Roxboro St. is about 50
> feet wide, just south of the Knox intersection. This proposed walk is
> about 300 yards, or nearly 20 times as far. It's hard to imagine a
> parent with a toddler in tow and an infant in a stroller making that
> trek, or a 10 year old on a bike going to the park not dashing directly
> across the street where the park actually is.
> Unfortunately, it's all too easy to imagine the consequences when
> someone decides to use the so-called right turn lane as a passing lane,
> and accelerates up the hill to get around the traffic in the through
> lane at the same time our 10 year old is riding her bike across the street.
> It would be great if changing this particular monstrosity was as simple
> as getting Secretary Tippett to try to cross the road with his grandson.
> But what then of the dozens of other roads throughout the city equally
> as dangerous? How long will it be before there's a fatality on the Duke
> St. or Gregson St. overpass on I-85 between Northgate Mall and Brogden
> Middle School? Another fatality on the Guess Rd. speedway between Horton
> and Carver? Didn't the city just spend over $300,000 developing a plan
> to improve pedestrian safety throughout Durham? Aren't these exact
> problems anticipated and addressed in this plan?
> As our city grows, and our urban neighborhoods become more popular and
> populous, we can't afford to let the state DOT continue to make
> decisions that put our residents, especially our children, at risk. It
> doesn't take a Nostradamus to know that without major policy shifts,
> more pedestrians are going to be killed and seriously injured in Durham
> for engaging in the simple act of walking to school, the park, or the
> grocery store.
> Barry Ragin
> 1706 Shawnee St.
> John Schelp wrote:
> > Column: Go for the big fish to stop a sea of traffic
> > problems
> > By Frank Hyman, Durham News, 20 Jan 2007
> > My neighborhood is split in two by what we call "The
> > Ocean." You know it better as North Roxboro Street.
> > It's only 50 feet across, as much as a wide stream,
> > but one that contains two lanes of cars and trucks
> > that roar through our neighborhood like a linear tidal
> > wave. If you want to cross it on foot or with a
> > stroller, it might as well be an ocean.
> > And thanks to an organization that could be called the
> > North Carolina Department of Fast Cars and Poor
> > Hearing -- but that you probably know as the N.C.
> > Department of Transportation or NCDOT -- that Ocean
> > has become harder to cross. Many wade across The Ocean
> > at the Knox Street intersection to get to Duke Park,
> > an island of tall oaks with a popular play structure
> > that possesses the bold colors and grand scale of a
> > Calder sculpture.
> > NCDOT has widened The Ocean here by adding a turn
> > lane, not to access the nearby I-85 overpass, but to
> > access the neighborhood. Dismissing the neighbors'
> > argument that this lane is unnecessary, the NCDOT made
> > the crossing 10 feet wider without adding
> > pedestrian-friendly features sought by neighbors, such
> > as a pedestrian-activated crossing light or a raised
> > median for a halfway point for the crossing.
> > While city staff and council members are sympathetic,
> > they have no leeway. Why? Roxboro is not a city
> > street. It is owned by the state and so the buck stops
> > there.
> > My neighborhood isn't the only one feeling the
> > turbulence of NCDOT policies. They are going ahead
> > with plans to widen Alston Avenue despite local
> > consensus that building the East End Connector outside
> > of town would be a better way to reduce congestion
> > from Research Triangle Park commuters.
> > Opposition to the widening of Alston is building. Gary
> > Kueber of www.endangereddurham.blogspot.com <http://www.endangereddurham.blogspot.com/> describes
> > problems such as intersections that will be six lanes
> > wide, unmarked bike lanes, narrow sidewalks and
> > features that will accelerate traffic to speeds that
> > will endanger pedestrians and bikers. Again, local
> > officials are listening, but they can't do much. Why?
> > Alston Avenue is a state road.
> > Just last week a female pedestrian was killed in a
> > hit-and-run on Duke Street. Again, a state-owned road
> > in the center city. Again, the NCDOT has not listened
> > to local requests for simple steps that would cut
> > accidents and noise.
> > So if local officials can't force improvements on
> > these state-owned streets -- Roxboro, Alston, Duke
> > (and their associated one-way pairings: Mangum and
> > Gregson) -- what can citizens do?
> > Years ago when the Durham DOT didn't respond to
> > worries about cut-through traffic on Carolina Avenue,
> > the neighbors invited city council members to a
> > continental breakfast there. A table full of coffee
> > and pastries waited on one side of the street. Plates,
> > napkins, sugar and cream were across the street. And
> > rush hour had just begun. Casualties were few that
> > day, but quicker than you could butter a croissant,
> > the council made Carolina [at Hillsborough Rd] a
> > cul-de-sac. (That's French for "dead-end street.")
> > Another story.
> > A few years later, when the NCDOT wouldn't put a sound
> > wall where I-85 brushed against Club Boulevard School,
> > our former state senator, Wib Gulley, threatened to
> > introduce legislation requiring NCDOT to install sound
> > walls for all schools. Suddenly, NCDOT developed a
> > sense of hearing and built a sound wall for the
> > school. Gulley dropped the proposal.
> > My advice is to stop spending time mucking about with
> > the NCDOT staff -- they are transportation engineers
> > doing what transportation engineers are paid to do:
> > move cars fast.
> > Once you learn their lingo and realize they won't help
> > you, go over their heads. Department head Lyndo
> > Tippett -- he of the unrepaired median cables that
> > have cost lives on our highways -- would be a first
> > stop.
> > But if you're not getting satisfaction here (don't
> > expect much) go over his head to our representative on
> > the state Board of Transportation, attorney Ken
> > Spaulding. Spaulding is also a former Durham
> > legislator and knows how the game is played. And when
> > it comes to the NCDOT, the game is called hardball.
> > With a velvet catcher's mitt.
> > If Spaulding can't find leverage to calm traffic on
> > our state streets, then let the governor know. Part of
> > the unspoken deal -- so expect them to deny it -- when
> > a governor hires department heads and makes board
> > appointments is that these folks will keep the Guv
> > from having to meet with unhappy local folks. A good
> > rule of citizen action is that if you're not happy
> > about the state of things, make sure that the people
> > who can get you what you want are not happy either.
> > Then you'll see change.
> > And maybe Gov. Easley, Ken Spaulding and Lyndo Tippett
> > need to be invited to try to cross The Ocean with some
> > neighbors one day. While pushing strollers.
> > Frank Hyman is a former member of the Durham City
> > Council.
> > ***
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