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Downtown growth leads to bump ride for drivers

Posted June 6, 2008

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— With construction crews at the convention center tweaking traffic patterns to get work done, the growth in downtown Raleigh may be putting drivers and pedestrians at risk.

At the intersection of Lenior and McDowell Streets, driver Ari Romain said it can be a little “hectic” trying to get around.

The area has narrow and shifting lanes and a reduced speed limit that can catch drivers off guard.

“I had a couple of close calls. It’s really dangerous,” said driver Marquez Keller.

Keller works on McDowell Street, next to the construction site for the new convention center.

“You feel like you’re going to hit somebody because the lanes are so narrow. Especially driving larger vehicles, it’s really narrow,” Keller said.

Pedestrians have also had trouble navigating a lane with oncoming traffic on McDowell Street.

While there are plenty of signs warning drivers about the changing traffic patterns and reduced speed, some drivers do not pay attention.

Raleigh Public Works Director Carl Dawson said the city has received some complaints about the intersection. Dawson said his office has not seen a high number of accidents since the traffic pattern shifted in 2005.

“Everything we do is a balancing act. This is the lesser of the evils. There are narrow lanes, but the speeds are fairly low and it’s proven to be safe over the last three years,” Dawson said.

The city said drivers will have to deal with additional traffic pattern changes. Over the next three months, crews will be resurfacing McDowell Street to get it back to a more normal traffic configuration.

The new convention center is set to open Sept. 5.


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