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City leaders hope Hillsborough Street project leads to new investments

Posted June 9

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— Hillsborough Street is considered one of the gateways to the City of Raleigh, and city leaders believe Phase II of the Hillsborough Street Revitalization Project, which broke ground Thursday, will make the ride along the thoroughfare a bit smoother.

City leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday morning for the $18 million project that will put three roundabouts between Gardner Street and Rosemary Street by the end of 2017. There will also be new bike lanes, medians designed to slow traffic down, and public art.

Hillsborough Street is heavily congested and the main focus of the project is safety. Two roundabouts previously installed on the east end of Hillsborough Street have helped reduce pedestrian related crashes by 70 percent, according to city leaders.

“It’s going to help traffic flow, bikes and pedestrian. It really will drive more investment into this area,” said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

It's estimated that 15,000 cars move through Hillsborough Street each day and North Carolina State University students say the traffic makes walking to class tricky.

"The speed kind of picks up along the route, so if there were roundabouts, I think it would help control it," said N.C. State student David Nacouci.

After the completion of phase one of the project in 2010, the city saw $300 million worth of investments on the east end, including a hotel and new apartments. They are hoping to see similar investments from the second phase.

“We know going forward that this second phase will have a similar impact on the economic vitality of this part of Raleigh and certainly N.C. State University,” said N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson.

Not all business owners are supportive of the project, however. Some, including Don Ellington, think that adding three roundabouts will add unnecessary confusion.

"I don't like [roundabouts] and I have 100 friends who don't like them," said Ellington. "It's actually taking a street that should be a traffic moving thoroughfare and turning it into a garden path for students to wander around the street."

Construction on the project is expected to begin in about 10 days.

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