Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Town Hall gets an earful on "Davidson-Concord Speedway"

Davidson residents packed town hall Tuesday night - many of them children - to let officials know it's time to do something about the speed limit on Davidson-Concord Road.  This was in spite of efforts by officials discouraging them from attending because NCDOT would not be present.

Prior to the Board passing a resolution saying the town will ask NCDOT to lower the speed limit, 10-12 speakers took to the podium including several children to encourage Davidson to do something.  While all were appreciative of town efforts in the past.  It was made very clear those efforts are not enough.  It was pointed out that nearly 2 years ago Davidson officials passed a similar resolution, but nothing has been done.

Multiple speakers made reference to the flashing yellow beacons the town installed after Mason Stewart of River Run was seriously injured three years ago at the intersection of Robert Walker Drive and Davidson-Concord Road.   Two of those speakers were Don and Jennifer Stuart, the teen's parents.

One of the more poignant moments of the evening came when Don Stewart noticed three boys who were his next door neighbors.  The next accident could be any of the kids in the room.  When Jennifer Stewart spoke she relayed how she has to go through the very intersection where her son was hit every time she leaves the neighborhood.  She drove home the point that it's not a matter of if another serious accident will happen, but when.

Their son has recovered, but the next person may not be so lucky.

To all this, how did the town respond?

They told residents to come back next month when NCDOT is there.  They also told people to contact their NCGA representatives, Rep. John Bradford and Senator Jeff Tarte.  They said it's a state problem.  They passed the buck.

Oh, and they said they were going to spend $75,000 this next budget cycle to install more of the flashing beacons around town.  The same beacons many were saying do little to nothing at the site of Mason Stuart's accident.

Here is the thing.

It has been three years.  Why are citizens just now being asked to contact state representatives?  Isn't that sort of what we elect our town representatives to do?

And if that was what the town thought citizens should be doing all along, why weren't they encouraging that all along?

It's all about priorities.

Here is an example.  In 2013 and again in 2015, Davidson Town Hall pulled out all the stops encouraging citizens to contact the General Assembly in a vain attempt to stop a bill that imposed inconsequential limits on the town's ability to enforce design restrictions on single family homes.  It was an effort reminiscent of Don Quixote tilting at windmills.  They used a big chunk of Federal grant money to write a "Health Impact Assessment" hoping to convince people that their ability to enforce certain types of design on builders was somehow protecting the health and well being of citizens.

Ultimately, the bill passed overwhelmingly last year with overwhelming bi-partisan support - a rarity in this day and age.  All Davidson Town Hall achieved with its Quixotc effort was wasted political capital.

They've proved in the past that they are willing to put effort into applying pressure to Raleigh.  It has just been for the wrong things.

Hopefully, the message got through Tuesday night that the Town needs to be spending its effort on things that actually matter - like working with NCDOT to do whatever it takes to get the speed limit lowered before someone gets killed.

Update: NCGA Rep John Ray Bradford posted this earlier on his Facebook with a link to this story.  Good news!

"I met with the State's Traffic Engineer today, Kevin Lacy. His department is responsible for establishing speed limits across the state  We met in my office to review the Town of Davidson's Resolution. He committed that he would be willing to travel to Davidson to meet with Town officials, Senator Tarte and me. He agree he would personally tour/drive/observe the road to determine if the posted speed limits are still appropriate per NCDOT's speed standards. The next step is he is going to give me some dates of his availability so that we can all coordinate our calendars.  For clarity, legislators do not set speed limits but Senator Tarte and I want to help which is why we will coordinate this meeting and site tour. My sincere hope is that a re-evaluation by the head of the department will yield a fresh perspective and lower speed limit. Stay tuned..."


  1. Rick I enjoy your articles and appreciate your providing the important information you do. I must reply to your recent posts concerning speed limits. While it is absolutely tragic about Mason Stuart, it has been and is now, no secret that NCDOT controls the speed limits on the public roads in Davidson. There have been many articles in the past from other writers expressing this fact. In the past several years, there have been literally hundreds of requests made to NCDOT concerning speed limits, speed control measures and stop lights. The vast majority of those times, we are rejected because it does not meet NCDOT standards for implementation. All of this was done in the public forum. I find it a little unfair to find fault with the Board and say they are "passing the buck". The Board has no power on these type issues so the fact they have referred it to the appropriate authority is not "passing the buck". I realize and respect that you have your opinion but wouldn't these questions and comments be more successful directed to those that can actually make a difference?
    Everyone wants to see safer streets but let's direct that concern to those that can make the decision. Only with a large outcry to our state representatives can we prevent another tragedy.

    1. Sandy, thanks for the comment.

      When over the past two years has the town attemted to generate that outcry? I must have missed it.

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    3. And I will add, the fact that so many showed up last night was clearly not well received by at least a couple of the electeds.

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  2. For decades, I've watched local government blame state officials for town problems-- especially road and pedestrian problems. I've served on several town committees and heard the same 'our hands are tied by the State' argument time and time again-- and it's true. However, if the same number of citizens who went to the meeting gathered on the speedway and temporarily blocked it, there would be front page attention-- and just maybe, just maybe the NCDOT would be embarrassed enough to stop kicking it under the rug, and take action to primarily protect pedestrians instead of cars.

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