East End Connector still in planning stages


By Michael Gurganus
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
thedurhamvoice@gmail.com

The Durham Freeway’s East End Connector Project has been the subject of
controversy and debate within the North East Central Durham area. The project, still in
the planning stages, is on the agenda of one of the opponents to the connector,
Rev. Sylvester Williams of The Assembly at Durham Christian Center at the Hayestown
Resource Center in Durham.

The Rev. Sylvester Williams, a community leader concerned with the East End Connector Project, stands at the entrance to Durham's E.C. Woods Park which will lose a small amount of land to the project.

The Rev. Sylvester Williams, a community leader concerned with the East End Connector Project, stands at the entrance to Durham's E.C. Woods Park which will lose a small amount of land to the project. (Staff photo by Michael Gurganus)

Established businesses are hesitant to expand, until they see the impact of the
connector. New businesses are hesitant to locate, because of the possibility of the
impact. Residential property values are decreasing, since the community is an older
community and there is no movement to build new residential homes or rehabilitate
existing ones.

The Rev. Williams is concerned that the impact of the East End Connector and
how the two other projects will affect the area. “”When you look at the number of roads,
it’s not just the East End Connector. They’re talking about expanding Holloway Street
and Alston Avenue. So you’ve got within a mile or so of each other these three major
roads going on. What’s going to happen with the businesses and to the homes as far
as their value?” said Williams.

Not only is the economic growth a concern to the residents. The possibility of
increased traffic and noise to the residents near the proposed connector is another

issue. There are homeowners and renters in the area, one of the older sections of
East Durham, where the connector will be built.

The Rev. Williams said, “We may not have the voice that some other people
have, as far as the economic power. We may not have the numbers as other people
have to turn out to vote. But we still have people who count and matter. That’s the thing
we’re trying to push, that these people matter.”

However, the North Carolina Department of Transportation still lists the East End
Connector project
in the planning phase, with several major issues still to be dealt with.

Leza Mundt, the NCDOT’s project planning engineer associated with the East End
Connector, has a number of items still to be completed before the first shovelful of
dirt can be moved.

Mundt said, “There is the public design meeting, scheduled for early spring this
year as the exact date has yet to be announced. Two hours before the public design
meeting, there will be an open house for attendees to review the maps and
documentation regarding the project. Following the meeting, there will be a 30-day
period that public comments will be accepted, reviewed and a written response will be
provided.”

Mundt wanted to emphasize that public comments are welcome at anytime
concerning the project, not just during the 30-day public comment period.

After the results of the public design meeting are made available to the public,
another document for the “Finding of No Significant Impact” has to be completed.
Mundt said that the likely date would be sometime in the fall.

Finally, and the most important, is the issue of funding. Typically a project like the
East End Connector with a total projected cost of $182 million, receives 80 percent

Federal funding with North Carolina providing the remaining 20 percent. The NCDOT is
undergoing a review of the funding process statewide. A five-year plan is being drafted
through 2014, and at the current time the East End Connector is not in this plan. The six
to ten year plan, also being drafted, is where the East End Connector may be placed,
Mundt says she is aware of the sensitivity of the project and its impact on the
community. She said, “Projects like the Durham Freeway were not developed with
the sensitivities as we have today when we are planning projects.”

She also wanted to make it clear that the NCDOT realizes that there are no
tennis courts at C.R. Woods Park, one of the affected areas. This has been a
misconception among residents that the NCDOT was going to replace the two current
basketball courts with tennis courts. The NCDOT, according to Mundt, will refurbish the
surface of the basketball courts.

Weblinks:
North Carolina Department of Transportation East End Connector Project:
www.ncdot.org/projects/eastendconnector/

City of Durham Public Works Department East End Connector Project:
http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/works/eastend_connector.cfm



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