Local Vocal: This town needs a monorail

by William D. Courter

Greensboro could solve its present and future traffic congestion and air pollution problems in a way that would be the envy of other cities our size. It would attract new business to a city with such forward-thinking ideas. What we need is an overhead monorail system!

We can start with a few lines beginning in the city center and going out Market Street, Friendly Avenue and Elm/Eugene Street. We would lengthen these lines and add more lines as need requires and money permits. Let’s think of just some of the problems this would solve or avoid:

(1) A monorail runs on electricity, generated from domestic fuel sources. Thus we will take cars off our streets and avoid more air pollution, congestion and noise to our city. Our money for the electricity stays in the country and doesn’t go to the oil barons overseas.

(2) Monorails require very little additional real estate as opposed to widening our streets. They are supported overhead (in a “T” configuration) from support beams that go into the ground in the median areas of our existing streets. Where there are no medians we use support poles on either side of the street. Thus we avoid taking away existing sidewalks, front yards, underground utilities and more disruption that would result if we need to widen the highways into town as more folks build houses farther from the city center.

(3) We would need fewer new parking spaces and decks in town since more folks will be arriving from the various neighborhoods by monorail.

(4) Where the monorails exist we can remove the power poles on each side of the street and secure the utility lines under the monorail structure, with runs to each home and office along the route.

(5) As a side benefit, the stairways leading up to the monorail stations from each side of the street will provide a way for pedestrians to walk up and over these streets rather than dodge cars trying to cross the ever-busier streets.

(6) With many people using the monorail, leaving their cars at home, our streets would be safer. We would need fewer additional stoplights and we should have less gridlock, fewer traffic accidents and, eventually, lower auto insurance rates than other cities our size.

(7) Monorails are relatively unaffected by bad weather, but we know the problems bad weather presents to cars and buses, especially when the traffic light system goes out.

(8) Our monorail system would get nationwide coverage (at least until other cities smarten up, and monorails become common). This should be a plus when advertising our city as a good forward-looking place for businesses to locate.

If you dismiss this idea as too exotic for Greensboro, try to imagine the alternatives as our city continues to grow in all directions and more people need to drive into town. Think of Friendly Avenue (and others) as six-lane highways, with more exhaust fumes to breathe, more traffic lights, more screeching tires and car horns, more loud car radios, more driving around looking for a parking place and, finally, gridlock that backs cars and buses up through various town intersections. Of the two options, I much prefer the monorail in my future. How about you?

William D. Courter lives in Greensboro.