Local News

Raleigh Leaders Disagree on Hillsborough Street Changes

Posted December 5, 2006

After seven years, the debate on how to fix Raleigh's Hillsborough Street is still going in circles.

The number of crashes on Hillsborough Street is four times higher than the statewide average for similar roads. Everyone has agreed that something needs to be done to make the street safer and to make the road a destination, but not everyone agrees on how it should happen.

At Porters on Hillsborough Street, owner Kevin Jennings said he is hungry for a change.

“We want to make sure there is a project executed on the street,” Jennings said.

With students and traffic trying to mesh, there's been talk of making the street safer and more vibrant. One plan calls for part of the road to go from four lanes to two, and engineers have said that eight roundabouts would help slow traffic down. The proposal also includes 80 additional parking spots.

That proposal has garnered support from leaders of nearby communities, many business owners, and some City Council members.

“In terms of the goals of economic development, traffic calming, maintaining traffic flow, pedestrian safety, the case studies are here,” said council Member Russ Stephenson.

But not all council members agree.

“I have not still been sold on just the science behind the roundabout concept,” said council member Philip Isley.

Critics of the plan said two lanes would bring traffic to a standstill as students crossed the street and buses stopped. They also said that roundabouts wouldn't fix the decay of nearby properties.

“We need to look at ways to clean the street up, to rejuvenate the place, and circular paving patterns don't have much to do with that,” said council member Tommy Craven.

While the debate continues, one council member said some work would need to be done in the interim. Jessie Taliaferro said landscaping hasn't been kept up and trash receptacles are falling apart. She asked that attention be brought to the street immediately.

Jennings said he doesn't know if roundabouts are the answer, but he wants something done in the near future.

“The street needs to be renovated, so lets just make sure we accomplish that,” he said.

A vote on a plan for a renovated Hillsborough Street could come early in 2007.
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