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Davidson News

Traffic on Main: Consider banning cars

By Hannah Doyle, Davidson College Class of ’19, with Kenny Xu, Class of ’19OPINION. With the growth of Charlotte and its suburbs in recent years, I-77 experienced a dramatic increase in traffic, which many hope will be abated by the expansion of the freeway, although this addition won’t be completed for several more years. The congestion on the freeway has encouraged drivers to shortcut through Davidson via Main Street when commuting to and from Charlotte, and the combination of this with new businesses that have opened in the heart of the town have caused the horrible traffic that we know so well today. Despite the traffic concern, city planners for the town are considering opening new shops on South Main Street.  How will Davidson respond to this concern?

Officials of the town have taken the problem into account by creating a “Connectivity and Traffic Calming Plan” for Davidson. The proposal includes plans to reconstruct intersections such as, but not limited to, Main Street and Concord and Main and Griffith in order to better accommodate motor vehicles and pedestrians during busy hours. It also proposes building a road from Potts to Sloan Street as an alternative to Main Street usage (see a map of Davidson roads to picture what this might look like). The long term project comes with an estimate of over $1 million to cover initial construction costs. With the ever-increasing daily traffic flow through Davidson, will some connection roads and “safer” intersections be enough to dilute the concentration of cars on Main Street? Since businesses continue to pop up especially in the center of the town, without greater reforms, the addition of new roads appears to be fighting a losing battle.

There are of course some short-term options to mitigate the flow of vehicles on Main, such as encouraging residents to walk or bike more when going into town. However, some residents have pondered the idea of making the busiest part of Main Street a pedestrian-only zone. I cringed at first when I heard that, too. But when I thought about it more, why not? With careful planning to ensure that residents who need vehicular access from their driveways onto Main receive it and people still have motor access to the college, a pedestrian-only zone is quite possible. Not to mention it is safer for pedestrians, and restaurants/shops can expand their spaces onto the road.

A combination of a pedestrian-only zone to deter vehicles and the construction of several connecting roads to provide alternative ways around Main Street should serve to cut down on the stifling traffic around the heart of Davidson.  This could only help make our community a safer and more convenient place.

Hannah Doyle, from Milwaukee, WI., is a sophomore at Davidson College, intending to major in neuroscience with a minor in German Studies. E-mail: hadoyle@davidson.edu.

Kenny Xu, from Princeton, NJ, is also a sophomore. He intends to major in English, minor in Math. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Odyssey Davidson, an online publication for millennials. Email: kexu@davidson.edu

This opinion piece was originally published in The Odyssey Online, an online publication for millennials.