The loop is a three or more lane (usually) one way connector that was the grand plan of Durham's greatest minds a few decades ago, in an era when pedestrian malls, building modernization, and that old saw "urban renewal" were the hottest trends in modernizing our cities.
Well, it's the early 21st-century, and a lot about downtown has changed, from the rehabilitation of old tobacco and textile facilities into mixed-use offices, residences and restaurants, to the at-last revival of street-level dining and entertainment along Main St. and elsewhere in the city's core.
But that hoary old Loop keeps on truckin', the shells of roads like Great Jones and Ramseur still Frankensteined together to make a circuitous route around downtown, a corridor that serves to discourage pedestrian interaction and to cut downtown off from itself.
There's hope that this might change, though. And the first step: the unveiling of a consultant's two proposed plans for converting the roads of the Loop back into two-way streets.
Kimley-Horn -- a traffic and engineering firm that does a boatload of work with Durham and other cities, and in fact opened offices recently in the Rogers Alley development across from City Hall -- has been working on ideas of approaches to allow Durham to (to mangle an expression from Boston's Storrow Drive) reverse the curve, and possibly the curse, of the Downtown Loop.
The proposals -- which will be unveiled to the public next Thursday, Oct. 15 from 6-8pm in an open meeting at the committee room on the second floor of City Hall -- take into account the current and 2025 projected levels of traffic and recommend "functional roadway/pavement marking plans" to accommodate the return of two way traffic.
Comments from next week's workshop will find their way into a second workshop to be held at a future date.
Just where the funding would come from to perform the work is yet to be determined; placeholder items for future phases of downtown streetscape work have been embedded for a few years now in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) list, though without a funding source identified.
But, hey, every journey begins with the first step. And that step starts next week, it seems.