Dependable Erection

Thursday, March 08, 2007

East End Connector

Kevin at Bull City Rising gets it.

Is this the Durham Freeway all over again, as Rev. Sylvester Williams and other East End Avenue community leaders would like to portray? Not exactly. The way I see it, the EEC is actually a key step in saving Durham's historically black neighborhoods, especially many that are historically less-advantaged than East End, along Alston, Avondale, and Holloway in eastern Durham.

It's no secret that some of Durham's more revitalized downtown neighborhoods, like Old North Durham, Duke Park, and Trinity Park, have been some of the main boosters of the East End Connector. Currently, roads like Mangum, Roxboro, Duke and Gregson are the only accessible "through streets" between North Durham and the commercial centers of downtown Durham and especially Research Triangle Park. I-85 is now a twelve-lane "wonderland" of expressway bliss (or automotive excess, take your pick), but unless you start out way west of Cole Mill Rd. towards Hillsborough, there's no direct link to the Durham Freeway. Everyone traipsing in from North Durham or from Granville County has to take the city streets, start and stop, to get to NC 147.

Does this mean that the road only serves "white privilege," as was implied during the February City Council meeting? Hardly. Yes, today's traffic problem impacts many white neighborhoods in Durham (though it's worth noting that Mangum and Roxboro also pass through areas with more diverse populations.) But Alston Ave. and Avondale Dr., both of which divide majority-black East Durham, also suffer from the same problems as their north-south neighbors to the west: too much traffic cutting between NC 147 and I-85; cars travelling at high rates of speed, making life dangerous for pedestrians and kids; noise and air pollution; and depressed property values.

Interestingly, many of the same voices who've supported the East End Connector are among the loudest in opposition to NCDOT's misconceived plans to widen Alston Avenue. What urban neighborhoods in Durham need -- be they east or west, historically privileged or disadvantaged -- are calm, low-traffic roads, not high-speed thoroughfares.

Let's echo that call for a rethinking of the Alston Ave. project. NCDOT's Guess Road widening, which the Alston Ave. project resembles in a not inconsequential way, has already taken the life of one Riverside high school student who tried to cross in the early morning hours. We really need a Department of Transportation that is able to balance priorities other than moving as many cars through our neighborhoods as possible.



  • Thanks for the link, Barry, and for helping to fight the good fight on the EEC.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 7:43 PM  

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