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tozmervo

Better Roads

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I was prompted to this question when I saw a newscast last night where budget protesters were, among other things, clamoring for "better roads."

What are better roads?

I struggle with this question in Charlotte particularly, because I've always felt like we had pretty decent roads. Most of them seem well kept - few potholes, relatively smooth, painted lines aren't over-faded, etc. When I'm on the bus in other cities, I've often felt like I'm about to get thrown through the window because the surface is so rough - a problem I haven't had here.

But there continues to be a constant cry for "better roads" - what am I missing? What are those cries really asking for?

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Maybe if we had "more intuitive" roads, everyone would be happy.

Right now, I think Charlotte has a horribly planned mess of arching roads that lead to sprawled out destinations. If we actually maintained our main arteries as viable, important corridors, and didn't insist on building MORE and MORE major arteries, we would be in better shape.

Have you ever tried to give someone directions to South Park from Uptown? In my opinion, none of the routes out there are very intuitive. Maybe Park Rd. to Tyvola is the easiest? But you have to ask yourself, why are there SO MANY roandabout ways to get to nowhere?

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"Better roads" means a grid system, with bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and traffic calming devices. In my opinion, anyway.

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Maybe if we had "more intuitive" roads, everyone would be happy.

Right now, I think Charlotte has a horribly planned mess of arching roads that lead to sprawled out destinations. If we actually maintained our main arteries as viable, important corridors, and didn't insist on building MORE and MORE major arteries, we would be in better shape.

Have you ever tried to give someone directions to South Park from Uptown? In my opinion, none of the routes out there are very intuitive. Maybe Park Rd. to Tyvola is the easiest? But you have to ask yourself, why are there SO MANY roandabout ways to get to nowhere?

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"Better roads" means a grid system, with bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and traffic calming devices. In my opinion, anyway.

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More money for roads and less money for mass transit.

I got the email asking for people to go uptown to protest about the issue. The people organizing those protests are a fringe minority even in their own political party so their cries should be ignored.

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Indeed. The car-centric suburbanites want the government to only subsidize their lifestyle choices with little or no regard to how it impacts neighborhoods or air quality. In greed we trust is their motto.

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All trips begin and end as pedestrians. The call should be for better streets.

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Seems kind of unfair to vilify an entire group of people because of where they choose to live.

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Good point; however, I have concerns about people who protest for better roads not because they live in the suburbs, but because they want to deny others similar freedoms as to where to live and how to travel. They want to live in car-centric suburbia and want to require (through zoning, through no mass transit, etc.) that everyone else do the same; they don't want to allow the free market to let developers build walkable neighborhoods and don't want to allow the transportation dollars to be used in a variety of ways.

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I was prompted to this question when I saw a newscast last night where budget protesters were, among other things, clamoring for "better roads."

What are better roads?

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better road, noun. (English, circa 1957) a road built to or near property recently acquired at a cheap price by a developer, ususally to be resold at a handsome profit when the better road is built. Often accompamied by a campaign contribution to those responsible for building the road.

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Just so the record is clear...

When the Urban Street Guidelines came before City Council for adoption in October of 2007, this year's Mayoral candidates were on opposing sides...

Anthony Foxx voted in favor of the Guidelines, John Lassiter ( along with Andy Dulin & Don Lochman) voted against them.

http://www.charmeck.org/NR/rdonlyres/e23fl...sdea/102207.pdf

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Just so the record is clear...

When the Urban Street Guidelines came before City Council for adoption in October of 2007, this year's Mayoral candidates were on opposing sides...

Anthony Foxx voted in favor of the Guidelines, John Lassiter ( along with Andy Dulin & Don Lochman) voted against them.

http://www.charmeck.org/NR/rdonlyres/e23fl...sdea/102207.pdf

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was the same way with the 2008 Bike Plan.

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All trips begin and end as pedestrians. The call should be for better streets.

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Given his mayoral ambitions, Lassiter is likely just wooing the development community. The bigger surprise, in my opinion, is Kinsey. Despite her representation of the City's most urban district (the in-town neighborhoods encircling Uptown) and working for an architectural firm, Kinsey voted against both the Urban Street Design Guidelines and the Bike Plan.

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Article in the O comparing NC toll roads to the failed Southern Connector in Greenville, which is expected to go into default this year for obvious reasons. When you travel it, it is deserted. O Article

Interesting quote from the article:

Joyner agrees with Conti that the Garden Parkway isn't as strong of a toll project as the Raleigh outerbelt and the Monroe Connector/Bypass. But he said the Gaston toll road will succeed, and it shouldn't be compared to the Southern Connector.

N.C.'s toll projects are being partially funded with tax dollars, he noted, which means tolls don't have to cover the entire debt payments, as they do in Greenville.

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The Garden Parkway is a terrible idea. I do like the idea of creating another connection over the Catawba to Gaston County, but I would rather see it in the form of a road than an interstate thing.

As for the Southern Connector- it's really quite an embarrassment. I hear it's not maintained at all. It's in part because SCDOT doesn't have the money to do it with the general state of the budget, but it sure doesn't help the look of that road.

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But there continues to be a constant cry for "better roads" - what am I missing? What are those cries really asking for?

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I could have used any topic for this idea - but I chose this one.

How about this concept:

As the surface lots are sold and redeveloped into a more welcoming urban use, consider building daily on-street metered parking in Uptown.

Pro's:

-The City of Charlotte (presumably in conjunction with NCDOT) will collect revenue from cars parked on these streets. Could be anything from $5 a day up I guess. So this becomes a new revenue stream. 10,000 cars a day for $5 could sure help to build out more transit options, to better serve those who park their cars on-street.

-Puts the roads on a diet - smaller urban roads are usually more valuable to a city in that they provide a better atmosphere for the city dweller. This may prove more enticing for street fronting retail to come, sidewalk cafes, stroll districts, etc.

-Healthier and more informed residents. So you have to park 2 blocks from your office - get some exercise tons-o-fun, and while you're at it, read the menu from that new cafe that just opened when you walk by.

-Beat the rush! Don't get caught up waiting to exit that claustrophic parking structure at 5pm - just pull out of your spot onto the road.

Con's:

-NCDOT will have to be convinced that a CITY should not have wide, runway-like streets - no matter what the use/capacity formula is.

Would anyone like to comment/add?

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I like the intent behind your idea and think it could be workable if they added a lot more on-street parking. But right now, I think on-street is too valuable for short-term parking. Valuable in terms of revenue (aren't some meters like $3/2hrs?) and in terms of accessibility to uptown businesses.

In terms of candidates for a diet, I'd love to see College, Church and 3rd knocked down a lane. I get that they're all major routes in and out of uptown, but my god they seem dangerous.

A side note: the resurfacing work in Uptown makes buses so much nicer to ride it is not even funny. I caught an express out of uptown today and Stonewall street was like a dream compared to what it used to be.

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