Local News

Wake Leaders Work To Keep Up With Growth

Posted September 9, 2003

— Wake County is expecting explosive growth that will affect everything from schools to streets. Local leaders want to get ahead of the boom, but may have to settle for barely keeping up.

More cars its roads, more students in its classrooms and more construction in its neighborhoods. That is what Wake County and its residents can expect in the years to come.

Right now, about 676,000 people live in the Wake County. The population is expected to grow to more than 1.1 million by 2020.

Wake County's school system will expand even faster. Currently, 108,000 students are enrolled in its public schools. Educators expect 161,000 students by 2020.

"Each time they publish an article [about this being a] wonderful place to live, there's an influx of new people. We're trying to get a handle on that and trying to stay ahead of the curve," said Dr. Bill McNeal, Wake County school superintendent.

McNeal's solution is to build 13 new schools with funding from a $550 million bond referendum.

Even then, the school system will be playing catch-up. It is a role transportation officials know well.

The Department of Transportation hopes to relieve crowded commuter routes by planning ahead.

"Don't allow driveways everywhere up and down those routes, protect those, coordinate where entrances are going be, minimize signals," said Jon Nance of the DOT.

Kildaire Farm Road in Cary, is an example of how Wake County is planning for more traffic. Developers were required to widen the road and build sidewalks as they put up houses and businesses there.

The difference is obvious when you get to a private property line and the street improvements come to a halt.

Growth in Wake County is not likely to stop in its tracks. Even if it is tough to keep up with, local leaders said it is a good problem to have.

The DOT said work on U.S. 64 and Highway 55 should also help relieve congestion for commuters in the years to come.


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