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Charlotte Streetscapes

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I'd say a vast majority of us on this website understand that a "good" streetscape can make or break the way a city FEELS (even more so than architecture of buildings).

Charlotte has put into place a very progressive streetscape plan, one which takes into consideration things like wide grass planting strips, tree rows, hardscaping and other planned "natural" comforts extolled by the New Urbanist movement. So, I am not about to suggest that these planting strips, natural elements and hardscapes aren't the RIGHT thing to do; but the closer I look at them, them more I realize that the require a LOT of upkeep.

I worry that the City/County can't possibly keep up with a planting strip and sidewalk on every single street. (Did you know that there is actually a report that maps every single street in the city/county that has/no sidewalks - and suggests mitigation?) Much like my argument that annexing every house on the periphery of the city just to increase tax base is not wise because it dilutes the prudence of government services (water, sewer, roads, mail, etc.), I worry that we're burdening similar services by over-building certain streetscapes.

Urban centers need to be urban. Rural roads don't need sidewalks (and truthfully, rural roads have no place inside city limits), and suburban roads need a more economical consideration for their real use. If anyone is interest in talking more about how "suburban roads and their use" is defined, I'm interested in that conversation.

This just something I noticed today on my way in to work: there are many, many planting strips along I-277 that are inside the URBAN CITY CENTER that are overgrown 80% of the season. And yet the planting strips along high-speed commuter-only roads in the suburbs are always well groomed. Something is wrong here.

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Planting strips, tree rows, etc. can do much aesthetically for a streetscape, but I do think we may be overusing them in our more urban areas. When I think of certain classic urban streets, they actually don't have much in the way of landscaping. I suppose it's just something that spruces up the look of streets in our urban areas that don't really function as urban streets.

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Just filling in the missing gaps of sidewalks across this city is a never-ending mission. But to also replace the many miles of back-of-curb sidewalks?

However, if there is on-street parking, or even just a bike lane, then a back-of-curb sidewalk isn't as intimidating place to walk. Personally, I like the strategies of cheaper road-diets, like Selwyn Avenue and Hawthorne Lane, which were completed via resurfacing. These projects must be cheaper than East Boulevard, which involved curb reconstruction.

By adding more miles of parking and bike lanes within existing curbs, the City could simultaneously improve pedestrian comfort and calm traffic, and both at the cost of just the cost of paint needed anyhow following regularly scheduled maintenance.

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