Dependable Erection

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alston Avenue

Phillip Barron has a good column in the HS on the Alston Ave. widening.
A March 2007 report from the John Locke Foundation (JLF) encouraged the state Department of Transportation and cities around the state to widen roads as the primary transportation strategy for economic development and alleviating congestion.

In April that year, I wrote a column for The Herald-Sun questioning the study's findings, and casting doubt in particular on whether the findings even applied to Durham. As I did then, I still encourage you to read it for yourself at

I noted then, that by David Hartgen's own admission, single-occupancy driving declined in Durham between 1990 and 2000, the time period at which his academic gaze is focused. The data show, and so he also admits, that carpooling and use of public transit increased. He further notes that Durham is the only urbanized area in the state to report declining solo driving times and increased carpooling and transit shares between 1990 and 2000. You might think, then, that the conclusions he reaches for Charlotte or Raleigh ought to differ from the conclusions he reaches for Durham's future.

Across the state, however, it's all the same. Eliminate transit. Widen roads. Pave early and often.

Concluding the article, I asked whether DOT will side with the John Locke Foundation or Durham residents. That remains to be seen, but the question remains for each of us to consider. Do roads exist to serve people or cars?

Also at the time, I wrote that I thought Durham had strong, visionary leadership that could see through the misguided Civitas/John Locke Foundation mindset, which thinks of road widening as economic development.

The city still has an able Transportation Department, and in November, the people of Durham voted against the Art Pope-backed candidate for mayor. So, why is the City Council considering toeing the JLF line? What happened to our leadership?

Why, indeed? Several city agencies, including the Transportation Department, are opposed to the NCDOT's Alston Ave. widening plans. There are better ideas out there. Tell your City Council you want to see them implemented.

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