Residents say traffic calmers are good idea on the face, but ugly from the neck down

Durham, NC (June 14, 2008)- The odd-shaped structures on the Anderson Street shoulders were not meant to be roadside attractions. The “neck downs,” as the dirt-filled concrete collars are called, were installed last year to slow swift-moving traffic. But residents along the two-lane road rimming the eastern edge of Duke University’s West Campus don’t understand why they have to be so blooming ugly.

Weeds have taken over the bulk of them. Mulch has washed out of some and deep tire marks are left on the caked-dry dirt. “It does look a little rough out there,” said Kevin Lilley, facilities operations manager with the city’s landscape urban-forestry department. But before the city invests a lot of time and money into making the roadside more beautiful near Wrightwood Park, traffic engineers are developing designs for the structures that might do a better job of slowing cars and trucks.
Marge Nordstrom, a neighborhood advocate who was instrumental in getting the devices put in, has been troubled by their ineffectiveness. The neck downs were supposed to make the lanes seem narrower to slow drivers. “I’m not really happy about the weeds, either,” Nordstrom said this week. The city planned to plant creeping juniper in the neck downs last fall. But the extreme drought delayed those plans. Then, Lilley said, city transportation engineers decided to redesign the structures. Bicyclists have complained about them, as have parents pushing baby strollers to the park. Walkers and bikers are confused about whether they should use the road or the narrow edge of the shoulder, residents and city officials say.
Residents have planted lilies and canna bulbs in a few of the neck downs. Lilley said the city has mulch available for those who want to fill one in while they wait for the new designs. “We would certainly do that,” Lilley said.
Related Resources:
News & Observer- Traffic Calmers Good Idea but Ugly