Traffic on Duke and Gregson

By Mollie Flowe

The TPNA Traffic Committee, chaired by Mollie Flowe and advised by retired planner John Hodges-Copple, is working on a plan to ask the city to take over some of Durham’s dangerously fast one-way streets. Of particular interest to Trinity Park, of course, are Gregson and Duke Streets. 

The East End Connector has been open for nearly a year now. In addition to connecting NC 147 and US 70, another important goal of the connector was to “reduce traffic growth on local streets such as Duke St., Gregson St., Mangum St., Roxboro St., Alston Ave., and Avondale Dr.” according to the city’s website. Traffic counts and anecdotal evidence do point to a reduction of cars on Duke and Gregson, but unfortunately, fewer cars make these roads even more wide open and unobstructed for speeding.

Duke and Gregson are currently maintained by NCDOT, with the goal of moving regional traffic efficiently. Now that the Connector is open, regional traffic has another efficient route, and it is time to look at returning Duke and Gregson to serve local travelers safely rather than regional travelers quickly. Because NCDOT is in the business of efficient car movement rather than traffic calming, the first step in the process must be to have the city take over control of these streets from NCDOT.

Several past city plans and analyses have called for city takeover of Duke and Gregson and other similar streets in Durham. The committee’s goal is to help make the one-way streets in Durham safer for people who walk, bicycle, take transit and drive.  It is clear that the only way to do that is for the city to take over management of the streets from the NCDOT.  There are different tactical ways to accomplish traffic calming, and these should be pursued with the City and NCDOT as quickly as possible. 

The time is right to make Duke and Gregson and other similar city streets safer for all users–cars, pedestrians, bikers, transit users. The traffic committee is hopeful for a safer and slower future for our streets. 

How you can help:

  • Send your questions and concerns about traffic calming on Gregson and Duke or about city vs state control of these roads to Mollie Flowe
  • Share your stories, pictures, and videos of accidents on Duke and Gregson with Layne Walker (committee member, Duke St. neighbor).
  • We are getting our ducks in a row before reaching out to the City Council formally, but would love to know their thoughts/questions/reservations about city takeover of local one-way streets. If you have contacts with Council, please share with Aliza Sinkinson-Nogradi (committee member, Gregson St. neighbor).
  • Are you interested in working with the Traffic Committee in making these streets safer for all? Contact Mollie Flowe to be added to the committee email list.

DID YOU KNOW?… 85th Percentile Speed

More than the posted speed limit, a street’s design influences how fast drivers go.  Check out this nugget of information about the how speed data help set speed limits:

One of the most common types of speed data NCDOT uses is based on the speed at or below which 85 percent of drivers are traveling. NCDOT uses the 85th percentile to help avoid posting speed limits that are artificially low, which can become difficult to enforce. In the absence of strict enforcement, most people drive at the speed they are comfortable with, regardless of the speed limit.


Neighborhood concerns, Traffic