by Sam Hieb
That’s a bold–yet truthful— statement from Winston-Salem Assistant City Manager Damon Dequenne regarding the proposed streetcar line that would run between Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University at a cost —minimum— of $235 million:
Winston-Salem officials say a study commissioned by the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter showed that the cost of building the line would be much too high to tackle.
…Dequenne, who said the Innovation Quarter study showed a streetcar “was not going to be feasible in anyone’s lifetime,” said the better short-term option was “a pedestrian and bike-friendly greenway option” for the old rail line.
Maybe the better quote came from Winston-Salem resident Gloria Barnes, who lives on 27th Street, where the proposed streetcar line would run. Barnes told the Journal “I wouldn’t have rode it. I’ve got my red car there.” I’ll venture that Ms. Barnes worked hard for her red car and is proud of it–too proud to ditch it for the streetcar. On a related note, Antiplanner cites a Washington Post article admitting the “car is still king in D.C.” in spite of its massive public transportation system.
As the Antiplanner has noted before, there are two ways of planning transportation systems. One is to look at people’s actual transportation habits and needs and plan to meet those needs. The other is to fantasize how you want people to travel and plan to meet those needs. As long as places like Washington are locked into the second method of planning, they are not going to solve their transportation problems.
It’s good that Winston-Salem is stepping into the real world. Of course there is an exception–City Council member Dan Besse, who expressed disappointment that there would be no “transit-oriented development” now that the streetcar line has been derailed. Problem is in so many large and mid-size cities you have politicians like Besse–not to mention city planners–who insist in indulging their fantasies of how they want people to travel.