Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘pedestrian’

Driving Decatur to the Future – Keys to Success: Transportation

Posted by alalto on January 21, 2011


Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

BTW, I’m trying something new.  I’ve included lots and lots of links to various pictures and pages that might help you to better understand these topics.  I hope you enjoy, and maybe laugh a little along the way.  Thanx!

Transportation

Transportation is absolutely ESSENTIAL to the vitality of our regions as we grow into the future.  As our population continues to grow, our industries continue to expand, and our tourism attributes continue to grow in popularity our infrastructure MUST be able to cope.  This is not one of those “I’d like to have it,” details, it’s a “MUST HAVE.”

Why Gorgonn Will Always Be Wrong About This

We all acknowledge the level of stupidity that Gorgonn possesses.  By the way, if you don’t know who “Gorgonn” is, please refer to the post I published on January 16th, 2011.  We constantly hear Gorgonn whining that transportation expansion only leads to pollution, traffic, and commutes.  I think we can all agree that in some ways, Gorgonn could be correct, after all someone had to come up with the tangled web of roads in suburban Atlanta

Anyways, if done incorrectly and not planned properly, YES, roads can lead to even more congestion, pollution, and longer commutes.  This is all something that people hate about an expanding city.  The good thing is, there are ways to accomplish the improvement of our infrastructure with out causing massive Gorgonnathon in the form of congestion.

There are certain things that need to be accomplished, and I am certain will do nothing but improve traffic.  Here’s my list:

  1. Designate US ALT 72/AL 20 controlled access on the Northside (the northern reaches of the city limits in Limestone County).
  2. Begin to examine the construction of overpasses on Beltline Road.
  3. Examine safety concerns along 6th Avenue.
  4. Adopt a “Complete Streets” initiative.
  5. Find ways to improve mass transit.

Each of these 5 points has the potential to improve traffic and reduce headaches.  Gorgonn will deny that any of these would work, I do not lie.

Designation of US ALT 72/AL 20 (Northside) as Controlled Access

This is something that the planning commission is currently considering.  I believe they will eventually adopt this and the long process of completely remaking the road network on the Northside will begin.

This is one of the more trans-formative initiatives.  With this, there is the potential for massive economic investment and population growth.   The fact that we haven’t yet seen some type of development on the Northside is something that still amazes me.  If Bass Pro eventually sets up shop over there, which they still seem intent on doing, I think you can count on a ridiculous amount of growth following it’s construction.

How does this help traffic?  I think we all know that.  Gorgonn would say that it doesn’t, but I seriously doubt that Gorgonn has sat through rush hour traffic on that route.  Declaring this route controlled access basically streamlines the process of getting to the bridges after work on weekdays.  Will it help you get through that darn traffic light once you cross the river?  No, but it will help you get there more quickly, which still means that you cut valuable time out of your commute.

Decatur Planning Commission has approved this plan, but the city council still has to approve it as an ordinance before it can have any effect.  I’m sure the council will approve it, not too worried.  But, this could take some time to implement.

Begin to examine the construction of overpasses on Beltline Road

I’m not talking about an all out Memorial Parkway-ing of the Beltline, no.  I’m speaking about adding overpasses and service roads (like the ones on Memorial Parkway) at certain points along the road where high traffic occurs.  So, basically one, two, maybe three intersections. 

Which intersections?  I say Danville Road, US ALT 72/AL 20, and Spring Avenue.  I leave out 6th Avenue because I think it would cost way too much due to all of the businesses and stuff that would have to be relocated to accomplish this.  Basically, it’d be a huge pain in the butt.  It’d be kinda like trying to build a massive world-class hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea… 

Examine Safety Concerns Along 6th Avenue

What do I mean by this?  Have you ever noticed that all too often the road itself it higher than the curb that is meant to contain it?  No the road didn’t decide it wanted to get bigger, nor did we just feed it too much and it got fat.  This has been caused by magnificent human ingenuity!

Anyways, what does this mean, this odd road level, relative to the curbs?  Well, it means basically that our sidewalks are functionally obsolete.  Why, we all know that Gorgonn is asking why does this matter?  Who needs sidewalks?  Well, in order to assure that our roads aren’t overrun with cars that are simply driving down the street to McDonalds or other small trips we need them.  Plus, has anyone noticed that the USA has an obesity problem?  Problem is, our city doesn’t facilitate pedestrian movement.

Really though, it all needs to be fixed.  This problem, as simple as it may be, causes problems ranging from sanitation, disease, drainage, safety, to functionality.

In addition, we need more crosswalks.  More crosswalks means more foot traffic for parks and businesses.  At the moment, it is truly dangerous to cross the road in Decatur.  There are only about 4 or 5 crosswalks with signals on 6th Avenue and that needs to change.

Adopt A “Complete Streets” Initiative

This is something that I doubt anyone who’s reading this has heard of.  You can see an adequate example of it along Modaus Road between the Beltline and Danville Road.

Complete Streets insures that all forms of traffic (at least those using feet and tires) are able to utilize a street.  This includes sidewalks, bike lanes, and the usual street features.  This isn’t something that is done in one sweeping project, but rather something that is phased in.  Each time a road is repaved, or maybe repainted, it is redone with Complete Streets in mind.  Usually a city will start out just phasing in the bike lanes and get to the sidewalks later since they’re so much more expensive.

This initiative reduces the need for cars and also increases that foot traffic that I was talking about earlier.

What about Gorgonn?!  Right now, Gorgonn is grumbling in his/her lair about how we don’t need sidewalks or bike lanes, because no one will use them!  The fact is that no one uses the ones we have because we don’t have any!  The ones we do have are inadequate and don’t connect to a larger network that allows them to be functional. A part of these kinds of problems is that people do not connect the dots.  It’s just like your internet, (think of your feet as a wifi receiver on your laptop and sidewalks as the internet), it doesn’t matter if you have a wifi receiver if there’s no internet to connect to.

Find Ways To Improve Mass Transit

This is a biggie.  Many people don’t like transit, and there are valid reasons, but I tend to believe that benefits outweigh costs.

Now, I’m typically someone who doesn’t agree with government providing freebies or running programs that in turn run deficits, but I’m a fan of mass transit.  Why?  Not only because Gorgonn detests mass transit but because it increases mobility, allowing people to get into town and spend money that they normally wouldn’t.  Also, it brings more people into downtown areas, increasing the likelihood that these redevelopments will succeed.  MT also encourages a city to be a regional center for commerce, bringing in people from surrounding areas.

An even more important part of mass transit is the regional aspect.  I’m not talking of Hartselle to Decatur, or Priceville to Decatur, but the larger region.  I’m speaking of connecting the larger regional centers of the Tennessee Valley.  I suggested the idea of creating inter-city bus routes between Decatur and Huntsville once to a city councilman and he simply couldn’t believe that I would support the idea of a program that would encourage Decatur citizens to leave the city and spend all of their cash in Huntsville.  Please…

Has anyone ever heard of the city of Fort Worth?  They face this same issue with Dallas…  yet… they have miles and miles of rail and bus routes connecting the two cities.  I think it’s safe to say that the leaders in Fort Worth are more worried about the relationship and interconnection that the two cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have than immature sales tax jealousy.  BTW, it wasn’t a city councilman that is currently in office.

What I’m trying to say is that citizens in Fort Worth are going to go to Dallas no matter what if Fort Worth doesn’t have what they want.  The same goes for Decatur and Huntsville…  Decatur citizens are going to head to Huntsville no matter what if Decatur doesn’t have what they need.  The question is, are we going to take advantage of this relationship and build on it?  Or are we going to continue pretending that the 20 miles that separate our downtowns might as well be the distance of the Pacific Ocean?

Just pretend for a second that Decatur is Los Angeles, and Huntsville is Tokyo...

Next Topic: Industrial Recruitment and Tourism

Advertisements

Posted in Driving Decatur To The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »