Local News

Raleigh's Downtown Traffic Flow To Move In Both Directions

Posted January 4, 2006

— City leaders plan to eliminate many of downtown Raleigh's one-way streets, starting with Hargett and Martin streets, once the new Fayetteville Street opens in the spring.

Leaders say by allowing traffic to flow in two directions, the new main street, as well as other downtown developments, such as the new convention center, will become more accessible.

"The one-way system is very confusing for people on foot, people in cars and particularly visitors coming to downtown for the first time," said Raleigh Assistant City Manager Dan Howe.

Howe and other leaders believe allowing traffic to travel both ways can help expand the vision of downtown. They don't want patrons to have a one-way mentality anymore.

"It creates a downtown that is perceived as a place to pass through, but not stop," said Dan Douglas, of the Raleigh Urban Design Center. "When you have two way streets, there's friction between cars that allows them to move at a slower pace and encourages them to get out and investigate our new city."

The changes are not expected on just Hargett and Martin streets. Leaders hope to fund two-way traffic on Lenoir and South streets in time for the opening of the new convention center.

Within the next few years, a switch is also planned on Jones, Lane and Morgan streets, which will then make every east-west thoroughfare in downtown Raleigh two-way.

Most of downtown's roads were once two-way, but Howe says they converted to one-way streets in the late1960s and 1970s when engineers found one-way streets could handle more traffic during peak hours.

But now, people are not coming and leaving downtown at just one time of day, leaders say.

"A lot more people are doming at odd hours than before, so you don't have those peak hour problems like you did before," Howe said.

City leaders also think the change can improve economic development because businesses will be visible from people heading both ways.

"They can come to a corner in both directions and the signs and visibility of that business at the location benefits from the two way visibility," Douglas said.

While many of the east-west side streets will change to two-way streets, the city, right now, has no plans to change the main north-south thoroughfares, Dawson and McDowell streets. Leaders believe that would have too much of an impact on traffic flow.

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