Thursday, August 16, 2012

Parkway Redux

Reworking Dunwoody Parkway was part of the Dunwoody Master Plan attacked with vigor and fueled by the enthusiasm of referendum victory. That was then, this is now. And now, there will be (re)debate of the plan and its merits. We can learn a few things from this.

First, plans are nothing more than just that. Some lines on a drawing and words on a page with little or no relationship to what will be done, when it will be done or what it will cost. Any resemblance between plan and execution is a rare coincidence.

The other thing we can learn is the destructive impact of greed, in this case known as "matching funds" or "leverage". The belief (or even the reality) that the "planners" can dip into other people's money generally inflates the plan well beyond what is needed. Often we wind up with a plan so grand that it is offensive to sensible folks.

This seems to have happened with the Parkway to Nowhere. The grand plan requires ripping everything up, pavement, median and trees so as to reconfigure to a median-less two-lane with sidewalks and bike lanes. This is the "Cadillac" plan. A simpler, cheaper, but equally effective transformation would include conversion of the outside lanes into raised sidewalks and bike lanes, add raised pedestrian crossings, repave the center lanes, retain the median with its trees and double-lanes only at each end.

This probably is not expensive enough to warrant matching funds making it a non-starter for a modern city government.