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Raleigh Council approves roundabout plan

Posted February 20, 2007
Updated May 5, 2008

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— After going in circles for months, the Raleigh City Council approved a plan to put two roundabouts in the Hillsborough Street area.

The City Council passed the measure Tuesday by a vote of 6-2, with council members Philip Isley and Tommy Craven opposing the plan.

The plan calls for two roundabouts, possibly four, but it will not include the 11 roundabouts that were originally proposed.

“I think sometimes we do have to do what I call creative tension where you have to stretch that rubber band as long as you don't break it and I think we stretched it to that point that we will come out with a much better product,” Councilman James West said.

Under the plan, a roundabout would be placed at the intersection of Pullen Road and Hillsborough Street near the North Carolina State University Bell Tower. A smaller roundabout would be placed at the intersection of Oberlin Road and Groveland Avenue.

The new plan will bury utilities in a five-block area, create more than 200 on-street parking spaces on both sides of Hillsborough Street and provide a median to help students cross the street safely. The plan is supported by N.C. State and most businesses and residents in the area.

“The roundabouts and the parking are the key to changing the character of the street. It will slow the traffic and it will not only slow it but create a sense of place here which has been what's missing for many years,” said George Chapman of the Hillsborough Street Partnership.

Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver said the location of the roundabouts will serve as a gateway to the university district and an entry to the city. Most importantly, he said, it's a plan that is sustainable for the long term.

“We really looked at it from an economic development point of view,” he said.

More detailed designs for the roundabouts will now be drawn up. The entire project is likely to cost between $6 million and 7 million. Nearly $3 million is already set aside from a previous bond.

It is now up to the city manager to figure out where the rest of the money will come from. Mayor Charles Meeker said the money could come from streetscape funds, impact fees or even other bond projects that are delayed.

25 Comments

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  • BottomLine Feb 26, 2007

    I like it ... genius ... keep it in budget now council.

  • 2 Feb 21, 2007

    traffic flow should be drastically improved for those leaving pullen to get on hills because the stop lights pre/post the roundabout on hills will allow traffic flow to slow enough for those cars to enter the circle. I am very much a fan of this design and would encourage another one at hills and dan allen (would be helpful because it would only have one road entering hills vs. 2) and there is a stop light very close on the left/right of that intersection for people that fill better about crossing at a light.

  • erggggg Feb 21, 2007

    im still wary. the roundabout at pullen will definitely cause a lot of congestion but slowing down traffic on hillsborough is exactly what is needed. my concern is that roundabouts are difficult to cross for pedestrians----it will encourage jaywalking.

    should they cater to students who are trying to cross hillsborough or try to attract new people to come to hillsborough?

  • NCSUSally Feb 21, 2007

    Riding around? Maybe you don't use the pedestrian bridge; everyday I run that path there is at least 20 people around the bridge crossing alone. What a stupid comment.

  • Oh Smeg Feb 21, 2007

    LeaveNC, that's the Southern hospitality we've come to expect lately.

    Roundabouts would be fine IF some provision could be made for pedestrians to cross the street safely. But I've seen too many cars blow through crosswalks illegally, especially while the drivers are yakking on their cellphones, to hope that enough positives will come out of this plan to justify the cost. Common sense, common courtesy, and common observance of traffic laws are just not going to happen with the construction of some pretty roundabouts.

  • Mo Feb 20, 2007

    Roundabouts are used all over the world in lieu of traffic lights and are proven successful. We are one of the few countries that rely heavily on traffic signals out of habit. There will likely be a learning curve for someone who has never used one, but folks adjust quickly. Since Hillsborough is frequented by repeat users, everything should flow quite well. The existing Roundabout on Pullen Road at NCSU/Pullen Park works great, and has removed the rush-hour backups in that location. One simply cannot compare poorly designed circles in parking lot such as Alexander Place in NW Raleigh with a properly designed roundabout. AP is one of the worst laid out piece of traffic flow I have seen in this town. Unfortunately, Shopping Center parking lots, roundabouts, and traffic circles do not have to meet the same standards for traffic flow and safety as travel ways within public streets. It sets a very bad example.

  • leaveNC Feb 20, 2007

    I wish that all these people would stop settling their fat butts here in raleigh. You left somewhere for a reason. Please go back home and stop trying to change NC. If you liked it so much back home, then please go home!

  • happilychildfree Feb 20, 2007

    I'm just glad they are finally doing SOMETHING.

  • RidingAround Feb 20, 2007

    If you are worried about pedestrians, move the pedestrian bridges off from 440. They aren't getting used and I bet you could make 6 or 7 out of them.

  • Lit Feb 20, 2007

    Now for the $64,000 questions...

    1) How long will all this construction take on Hillsborough St.?
    2) Can they really hold this project to the proposed budget?
    3) Will the benefits really outweigh the costs?

    Because Hillsborough St. is such a busy throughfare, I can only imagine the traffic nightmare that will un-fold once they start construction. And I seriously question whether two-roundabouts and more street parking are going to bring the all results people are looking for on Hillsborough St.

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