Thursday, March 3, 2011

John Hammer: Battle Lines Should Be Drawn Over Loop

"The section of the so-called outer loop – aka Painter Boulevard, aka I-85/I-40, I-840, I-785, I-73 and US 421 – planned to go through northern Greensboro is going to be a disaster, much more so than the section that cuts across western Greensboro.

...The northern loop hasn't even been funded, much less built.

...The western loop blindsided people.

They didn't realize that Painter Boulevard was not like Cone Boulevard or Bryan Boulevard, but is part of the massive interstate highway system. In short they didn't know that huge tractor-trailers would be barreling past their homes at 70 mph and 80 mph, 24 hours a day. The interstate slows but never stops. Those who live near the northern loop when it opens will have the same thing – huge tractor-trailers going past homes much closer than anyone thought, at all hours of the day and night.

...The problem with the western and northern portions of the loop is poor planning. ...Look at Greensboro and you will see examples of poor transportation planning all over the place – Murrow Boulevard, Yanceyville Street, Greene Street, Spring Garden Street. All were widened way beyond anything that was needed.

People's property was taken from them for a public purpose. They were paid, but many didn't want to be paid; they wanted to keep their property. It turned out there was no public purpose because the planners miscalculated, not by inches but by miles. Murrow Boulevard is a divided highway that doesn't go anywhere.

...But look at where the outer loop south and east of Greensboro is. It is a couple of miles out past the city limits, except that the city managed to annex the loop. But from any other section of the city it is way out there. Then look at section slated for the north and west. It is a couple of miles inside the city limits. The outer loop is supposed to go around the city, not through the city. It is why it is called an outer loop, or bypass. The state highway planners who planned the road evidently had not been told that cities grow. They planned the road as if Greensboro were stagnant.

...What is sad is that our state legislators say, and city councilmembers say, "Well, it's already planned," and "There would be ramifications to moving it." ...If you plan to take a month long vacation in Europe and are downsized out of your job, you will probably change your plans. We are constantly changing our plans because of changes in circumstances and in the economy.

...The planned northern loop will go just north of the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. The park includes much, but by no means all, of the land on which the battle took place. The area should be preserved. ...This interstate will go across an area where battle activity certainly took place, and it is simply too close to the battlefield itself.

...knowing what we know now about the road and about the growth of Greensboro, a better decision can be made.

They say hindsight is 20/20. Here Greensboro has an unusual chance to use hindsight to prevent a big mistake."

John Hammer
"I do not recall a case I voted on
where I was intimately knowledgeable about the Urban Loop”

City Council member Zack Matheny
said of the two years he served on the city’s Zoning Commission
before his election to the council.
Greensboro News and Record, May 31, 2009

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