Merchants question proposed Oberlin Road changes
Posted May 13, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Plans to narrow Oberlin Road from five to two lanes near Cameron Village have sparked criticism from merchants in the venerable Raleigh shopping center.
Raleigh planners want to give Oberlin Road a "Main Street feel" along the booming portion between Park Drive and Bedford Avenue. That would entail fewer lanes for cars and more room for trees, medians, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
Although retailers said they welcome the idea of more curb appeal, they said it can't come at the expense of access to Cameron Village.
"Admittedly, our neighbors shop with us, but there's a lot (who) come from other parts of Raleigh," said Mike Zimmerman, owner of Capital Run Walk and president of the Cameron Village Merchants Association. "We would like to see that they are able to have good access to the center, and coming in on Oberlin is the best way."
One idea Raleigh planners have floated calls for traffic circles on Oberlin Road to improve traffic flow, but store owners said that would be tough for their delivery trucks.
"If those changes in traffic go from five lanes to two cause even 10 percent of our customers to decide to go to North Hills or (Streets at) Southpoint or some place they can easily get to and easily park , it means some of these businesses are going out of business," said Katrina Ryan, owner of Sugarland bakery.
Keeping the current traffic lanes would be ideal, Ryan said.
"I'm thinking all about the economics because I took my retirement money and invested it here in Cameron Village," she said. "We just moved here a year ago (and) specifically chose Cameron Village because it's not a mall."
Planners cite Hillsborough Street as a successful blend of fewer lanes and wider sidewalks to improve a thoroughfare's appearance.
Raleigh hasn't yet set aside any money to redevelop Oberlin Road, however.