To keep moving, vote yes on the transportation bond

September 21, 2013 

When Raleigh voters look upon their Oct. 8 ballots, they’ll see Wake County school board candidates, a county school bond of $810 million. a Raleigh transportation bond of $75 million and municipal choices for Raleigh and the town of Cary. All are important decisions awaiting voters.

We support both bond issues. The needs for school construction and renovation, along with technological support, are clear and strong in a growing school system.

But it’s important as well that the $75 million in transportation bond money for Raleigh not be forgotten among the other important decisions voters will make.

Raleigh has been through a period of tremendous growth, and thanks to good management at City Hall, that growth has continued smoothly, though perhaps not without a few pains here and there. If approved, these bonds when repaid would cost taxpayers about 1 cent on the tax rate.

We used to call transportation bonds “road bonds,” but that’s not really applicable anymore. In the case of these funds, the needs that would be answered are many.

The city, for example, is aiming for more “walkable” neighborhoods in the future, and with that, more bike lanes on its roadways. That means narrowing some streets to make room for bicycles.

Other streets will need to be widened, particularly those in areas that have grown over the last decade and have become crowded.

There are roads that will get a little streetscaping, which is the term for landscaping when asphalt and concrete are involved. It might mean trees and grass and improved medians.

On Hillsborough Street, there will be some of that streetscaping along with work on a roundabout. Yes, the roundabouts have taken some adjusting, but residents seem to be doing better with their navigation.

Other examples of work: paving, bike lanes, sidewalks, lights and some widening on busy Rock Quarry Road, Tryon Road and Poole Road.

Think about the differences that sidewalks, to pull out one example, make for neighbors. Kids and dogs will be safer, not to forget the little tykes in the strollers. It gives any street a homey feel, a certain level of comfort.

Lights are an obvious deterrent to crime and rare is the street that doesn’t look better with them.

And those who get annoyed at bicycle riders for perhaps holding up traffic (though we’re not among them) now can yield a narrow lane on the right to those healthy, non-roaring bikers.

Much money will be spent in the North Raleigh area and in the northwest, where streets once thought of by long-time residents as “way out” and little used are now corridors to much more populated areas. It’s time, in other words, for some updates and maintenance.

Cities need nurturing. Without periodic improvements, roads and neighborhoods can go in a steep decline, and if a city beats a bond, for example, the repairs that inevitably will have to be made become all the more expensive. This bond is about keeping up with Raleigh itself, about maintaining quality of life. That’s not cheap. But it’s not an extravagance, either.

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