Letters to the editor — Aug. 23

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Best course of action for traffic improvements

The safety benefits of NCDOT’s proposal are self-evident to me. Furthermore, while some of the business owners in the immediate area would be impacted by NCDOT’s recommended solution, property owners themselves would probably be better off in the long run as improved traffic flow will invite redevelopment of their parcels. I would like to support this plan.

Regrettably, I do not believe the NCDOT’s recommended solution provides the basis for durable political consensus on this issue. It is basically an interchange plan without the interchange, and it provides no answers whatsoever for the collateral impacts to the surrounding properties and roads.

If the NCDOT agreed to leave the traffic pattern at the Market Center Drive signal unchanged and made a firm commitment to provide the interchange plan well in advance of the 2019 election, a majority might support the project. Businesses in the area might decide that a higher capacity interchange would deliver more shoppers to their doorsteps. The NCDOT hanging its hat on queue failures in 2040 doesn’t seem reasonable in light of the benefits of starting this project now. They should focus on solving today’s problems and deal with 2040 in due course.

Mayor Wait asked the most important and clarifying question of the history of the L-C road issue when he asked “what happens to the interchange if this plan is voted down?” Mr. Ivey responded that it would “go on the state list.” From the outset, I have maintained that the NCDOT’s highest priority is the safe and efficient operation of I-40, therefore it followed that they would be compelled to improve the interchange to clear traffic from I-40’s through lanes. To clear the through lanes, they must get traffic up the ramps and off the bridge, and to get traffic off the bridge they must build median infrastructure between the bridge and Stadium. So, no matter what the community wants on this issue, we will eventually get medians. It is just a matter of how much input we have and how long we have to wait for them. In truth, this project should have been on the state list from the outset.

If this project is not prioritized, the L-C road improvements will, in my view, be delayed but not forgone. It would be better if they weren’t delayed, but I think this is the hand that’s been dealt. When the NCDOT rolls out their interchange plan, it is likely that it will include their preferred median infrastructure and lanes. Knowing their preferred configuration, The Village and property owners should work expeditiously to plan, fund, and build out the supporting road infrastructure.

It’s also important to acknowledge the possibility that the NCDOT’s final interchange plan may impose an unbroken median (from the bridge to Stadium) on Clemmons. I do not view this as a likely outcome, but it is nonetheless a risk associated with putting the interchange project on the state list. If this occurs, the businesses that dug in their heals on this issue will rue the day they passed on the opportunity to have substantive input into this project. I urge the mayor to have this discussion with the affected property owners and businesses. If they are viewing this as a decision for medians or no medians, I believe they are not seeing the matter clearly. In my view, it is a decision for medians they have input into and… Door No. 2. And once Door No. 2 is opened, they will have to take what NCDOT gives them.

In summary, I believe the Council’s best course of action is:

1. Implore the NCDOT to keep the existing traffic pattern at the Market Center Drive signal.

2. If the NCDOT relents on the Market Center Drive traffic pattern, prioritize the project, work to mitigate remaining impacts, and build political support.

3. Make sure affected businesses understand the longer-term risks associate with Door No. 2 if the council doesn’t prioritize this project.

4. If the NCDOT will not relent on the Market Center Drive signal and the affected stakeholders continue to oppose the project, do not vote to prioritize the project.

5. Plan, fund, and build out the parallel road infrastructure so that when the NCDOT imposes its interchange plan stakeholder impacts are mitigated to the extent possible.

— Charles Sherrill


Positive focus on young people

My compliments to Larry Stombaugh for the excellent article — “After the Final Bell” in last week’s Courier. With so much negative press about teens these days it was refreshing to read that many are still focused and hard-working young people. Larry was obviously a teacher who inspired his students. It has been many years since I taught AP classes at RJR and what was at that time the new Career Center behind Forsyth Tech, but I remember what a privilege it was to be inspired every day by young people with a love of learning. I often asked my principals, Bob Deaton and Bob Greene, to stop by for a few minutes and observe these students in action. I look forward to reading about more of these students who provide positive role models for their contemporaries.

— JoAnn Dunn