In the life of any city or county, a bond referendum is a sort of grade for city government as to how it’s doing – a chance for citizens to give, or resist, a vote of confidence for leadership. Such bond votes also are a measure of what kind of city the people want. Do they want growth, modernization – or do they want to “hold the line” and stand pat.
Standing pat is not an option for Raleigh, not when Wake County is adding 60-some people a day (the number depends on the time of year) and services of all kinds need maintenance and investment. Area hospitals and doctors, and schools, and colleges and for that matter restaurants and bowling alleys can feel the growth and mostly, they can love it.
But a city needs maintenance, and maintenance is expensive, which is where the bond referendum on transportation comes in when citizens go to the polls on Oct. 10.
This is a vital need at a crucial time, and those aren’t just words. The News & Observer editorial board has stated its support for this bond several times, but today we emphatically endorse a “yes” vote so that Raleigh’s leaders can design the future the city deserves and the future we believe citizens, increasingly younger and in need of various transportation options, want.
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This bond is not only about roads, though it is about widening some streets in serious need of it because of increased traffic flow. Nor is it about the “inside the Beltline” area only, or North Raleigh, or Southeast Raleigh. No, this bond, or rather the money from it, will serve all parts of Raleigh, virtually every inch, and will thus benefit every resident with better roads and more sidewalks and better venues for buses.
And the $206.7 million bond will in part reflect what city planners have found out in recent years about changing needs: for one relatively small example, more and better ways to get to public schools through walking and riding bicycles will be part of this bond money.
Other city officials are reaching out to neighborhoods to listen and then to act on complaints about excessive speed and the resulting danger to pedestrians, particularly children. Residents will be able to talk to city officials about how the city might help them slow down traffic on those residential streets – and most people have them where they live – where drivers use some streets designed for quiet living as “shortcuts” and ignore speed limits of 20 or 25 miles per hour.
There will be more “streetscape” work, with furnishing and better landscaping.
Yes, there will of course be widening and street improvements. But this bond reflects not just the city Raleigh is, which it should, but the city it is becoming as those new residents often arrive looking for a place to live that is close to their work.
This is a good bond. It is deserving of the public’s support.