This is Raleigh Mann.
Last week, the Chapel Hill Planning Board unanimously approved the rezoning request of some folks who want to convert the house next door to us into a place where Muslims may gather for prayer. Betsy and I wanted to be at this meeting to support this project, which we see as an opportunity for our community to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and acceptance of all people, even those whose faith is different from ours. Especially them.
We rejoice that our new friends now may move forward toward realizing their dream. Their faith requires them to stop whatever they are doing — for prayer — five times every day. This small group has worked long and hard to create this home in Chapel Hill so they won’t have to travel several miles to do that.
But this commentary is about something else that came up in discussions at this Planning Board meeting: Why is there no traffic light at the corner of Stateside Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard?
Predictably, many will point out that there are already too many lights interrupting traffic flow on this busy road that is both a state highway and an important local street.
Someone in the know once told me that the State Department of Transportation would consider putting a light at Stateside Drive if we who want one would agree to raise the speed limit on MLK from 35 to 45 miles per hour.
Is he kidding? Anyone driving 35 on that road is likely to get run over by everyone else, who all are driving much faster. This is the same D.O.T. that promised us a 24-foot-wide median when MLK was widened to four lanes. That would have provided a safe haven at midpoint for drivers attempting to turn left onto MLK. That wide median never happened.
Neither, I predict, will that traffic light, as badly as it is needed. Nearly 300 families living in the North Forest Hills area need to get onto this busy boulevard on a regular basis. And we who live near the corner will continue to hear the screech-thump of those who dare take their lives in their hands trying to turn left and join the speeding traffic.