After we voted to reject the NCDOT proposal on April 21, 2009, and passed a resolution in favor of doing only the bike lane and sidewalk improvements, DOT came back to us with three scenarios, and told us we had to pick one.  One was their original plan, which we had rejected.  The second was to pursue our plan of only adding bike lanes and sidewalks, which meant, according to DOT, that our funding that was in the DOT “road” budget would disappear and we would have to apply through the meagerly funded “bike-ped” fund, which meant our preferred project would have to start all over in the budget process and would most likely be many years away.  The third option was to have DOT build the project with the two lanes, three lanes (appropriate turn lanes), and roundabout, but with a catch:  under this option, after completion, Carrboro would have to take over ownership, maintenance and further improvements of  the nearly one mile section of Smith Level Road where the four-lanes would not be constructed.  In other words, this state road would be turned over to the Town, an unprecedented move by the DOT.   

 At our BOA meeting on June 2, 2009, we discussed these options, and rejected all three.  Instead, we adopted a fourth option, to ask DOT to keep our funding in place while we talked with persons in upper level administration and policy levels at DOT about our concerns with the proporsed DOT project, one which we feel encourages increased use of automobiles instead of encouraging other means of transportation.  We do not feel that we should be penalized for encouraging alternative transportation behavior, and we believe this is what our citizens prefer, and what will be best for our region (indeed, for most municipalities) in the coming years as we try to reduce our carbon footprint.  Here is a story from The Carrboro Citizen recapping our conversation that evening:

http://www.carrborocitizen.com/main/2009/06/04/aldermen-send-smith-level-road-plan-back-to-dot/#more-6085

 One point I made during the meeting was that rather than call it a fourth option, we could simply say we prefer the third option, minus the attempt by DOT to push the financial burden of this road onto us.  I find it disingenuous that DOT would even present this option; it obviously is a reflection of the current economic condition of the state.  When I asked under what rationale they proposed passing this continuing cost on to us, the answer I received was in part that a new environmental study would have to be done.

I also find it interesting that supposedly, the type of project we are asking for cannot be built with “road” funds, but that DOT is offering to build that very project with “road” funds, with the financial caveat.  Well, we want it without the caveat.

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