Life on The Fringe

My wife and I moved to the Raleigh-Durham Triangle in 2015 as early residents of Carolina Arbors in Southeast Durham. This area is east of US-70 (Glenwood Ave.) and north of Brier Creek Parkway.

We soon learned that the North Carolina DOT was doing its due diligence and planning for the increased population it could see coming to the area. They were right. Since 2019, 6000 new homes have been approved, and another 2500 are awaiting approval. The City of Durham sees this area as a revenue source to help it fund other needs. We do not see any increase in police or schools.

The Arbors is one of the active retirement communities in the area. We are primarily concerned about emergency health care. When the county was building Fire Station 17 at Leesville and Doc Nichols Roads, our community leaders worked very hard to have the city put an EMS facility in the same building.

Before Covid, NCDOT had plans for project U-5518. It covered US 70 from East of Page Road to Interstate 540 and would replace traffic light-controlled intersections at Brier Creek Parkway and T. W. Alexander with highway interchanges. In meetings, NCDOT told us that, before long, it would take 45 minutes on either street to get from ACC Blvd through Glenwood Avenue if they didn’t upgrade the intersections. Also, the Glenwood and Brier Creek intersection is just above the entrance to I-540 and has heavy traffic from both directions.

Most of the construction area is in Wake County. The corner of T. W. Alexander and ACC Blvd has the Cambridge Optimal Living Retirement Community and a Wake Med Emergency Room. Emergency vehicles must be able to get through the intersections at Glenwood Avenue quickly. NCDOT is ready to do this work.

So, what is the problem? The last section of Glenwood Avenue between I-540 and the East End Connector runs west of T. W. Alexander Drive to Durham’s Lynn Road. NCDOT had started planning for that with project number U-5720. That would be a follow-on after they solve the congestion problem closer to I-540.

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization claims the right to delay, or block, 5518 while they do a “US 70 East Corridor Study.” While preparing for their meeting, I looked at the material. The study covered precisely the area of project 5720. That is, it stopped before any of the work for 5518.

Those who sit at Glenwood Avenue lights are frustrated by the continual delays and downright angry about any possible cancellation. We are a fringe area of both Durham and Wake County and the cities of Durham and Raleigh. It is difficult to get serious attention when you try to shout from deep in the outfield.

We are not kidding about this. The development in our area is rapid. Yet, the City of Durham wants the money without providing matching value or needed infrastructure. Meanwhile, planners at the far end of our region want to use us as a playground for their theories.

Prompt and timely medical care is our primary concern. Since you can’t give us flying fire equipment and ambulances, upgrade the intersections.

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