Action postponed on Hillsborough Street plan
Once again, the Raleigh City Council has delayed voting on further funding for the redesign of Hillsborough Street. At its meeting this afternoon, the council had a full agenda and requested that Jeff Moore, a designer at the firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., simply present a brief response to some of the questions the council raised about the project at its last meeting.
In answering the question “What is the city getting?” Moore named: a safer street, increased parking, streetscape improvements such as lights, and the likelihood of increased economic development as Hillsborough Street becomes more of a destination.
A list of cities across the country, as well as the fact that Raleigh already has 35 roundabouts, was included in his response to questions about other areas that have implemented similar traffic controls. He gave statistics indicating many fewer accidents and increased economic tax revenue in Golden, Colorado, and other municipalities. Council member Jessie Taliaferro requested a more balanced report at the next presentation that includes information about similar projects that haven’t worked well.
“How will traffic flow be improved by the reduction in the number of lanes in each direction from two to one?” Moore used a video clip taken on Hillsborough Street to illustrate how in many instances as the street is now, traffic flow is reduced to one lane while buses stop for passengers and when vehicles have long waits to turn left onto side streets. With the new design, there will be ”pull out” areas for buses, and traffic will not be impeded. Roundabouts will eliminate left turns because traffic will flow around and to the right onto side streets. The redesign will “preserve the capacity of the corridor,” Moore said.
The council and audience had a good laugh at the firm’s video simulation of the traffic pattern at the existing Pullen Avenue roundabout. Vehicles were moving smoothly at constant speed when a virtual pedestrian suddenly crossed at a crosswalk and the approaching car seemed to stop just in the nick of time. Certainly, real drivers and pedestrians will need to pay attention in order for safety to be enhanced.
The council will discuss and intends to take action on the Hillsborough Street plan at its next meeting, Tuesday Dec. 5, said Mayor Charles Meeker.