Our Turn: Slow down, Concord! Don’t kill Langley Parkway plan before vetting it
Last month, discussions about the construction of Phase 3 of Langley Parkway reached a fever pitch. At two public meetings, there were charges that the city doesn’t really care what the public thinks, and there were claims that the project is a “done deal.” After the meetings, candidates for city council were asked to opine on Langley at candidate forums and in editorial board interviews. Letters to the editor, all in opposition to the project, ensued.
The Concord Monitor reported that a group of neighbors who oppose the project were lining up a funding effort to fight it. Calls were issued for the death of Langley Parkway.
Whoa, Concord, take a breath!
Residents living in the project’s proximity wouldn’t be the only residents impacted by the project. The Monitor, in what is surely an understatement, acknowledged the possibility that “less well-off residents of other neighborhoods . . . might benefit from the Langley Parkway extension.” Indeed they might!
According to traffic models, shorter travel distances, as well as reduced intersection delay, would account for a savings of 2.6 million vehicle-miles of travel and 75,000 gallons of gasoline per year. With that would come reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Over 20 years, those benefits are valued at over $35 million. These are benefits that would be realized by the entire Concord community.
Emergency and routine patients, visitors and hospital employees all have a stake in the outcome of the project. The life-safety benefits of reduced emergency response time to the trauma center can’t be overstated, as attested to by a young mother at the Oct. 10 meeting who spoke of the difference a few minutes could make in getting her child to needed critical care.
Residents of the North End neighborhoods would notice a significant drop in neighborhood traffic volumes, especially on the shortcut streets that carry cut-through traffic.
That said, negative impacts on some residents are undeniable and should not be trivialized. But this is a time for looking at ways to mitigate the negative impacts. It is not the time to kill the project before the positive impacts have been vetted and are understood by the public, and before a larger scope of residents from all sections of the city have had their chance to weigh in.
It is also a time to consider the consequences of not building. As traffic increases on downtown streets – particularly on Pleasant Street – travel time to and from the hospital will also increase.
The third in a series of three public meetings is scheduled for tonight at 6 in the city council chambers on Green Street.
If you are one of the many who would benefit from the northerly extension of Langley Parkway, you should be there.
(Dick Lemieux is chairman of the Concord Transportation Policy Advisory Committee. This column was also signed by committee members Brent Todd, Ursula Maldonado, Jennifer Kretovic, Craig Tufts and Alex Vogt.)