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Hillsborough Street construction greets returning students

Posted August 14, 2009

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— As North Carolina State University students return to campus this weekend for the start of a new school year, they must contend with extensive construction along Hillsborough Street.

The city is reworking the street to improve traffic flow and make it more pedestrian friendly. The project calls for building some traffic circles to ease congestion and moving some utilities underground.

Hillsborough Street construction Construction may snarl N.C. State move-in day

Sections of the street have been torn up for months, with traffic sometimes reduced to one lane, alternating between eastbound and westbound traffic.

"Some days, it's OK. Some days, it's like a monster," said Carl McGill, special events coordinator for N.C. State's traffic department. "It's for the improvement of the city of Raleigh, and that area has needed a roundabout probably for many, many years. So we're just going to have to deal with the construction."

Most N.C. State students didn't have to deal with the project during the summer, however. About 4,000 to 5,000 students were expected to move back onto campus this weekend, and city and university officials urged parents and students to use Western Boulevard to get onto the campus.

One dormitory, North Residence Hall, is located on the north side of Hillsborough Street in the heart of the construction zone, and officials said students trying to move into the dorm will need to pack plenty of patience along with their boxes of clothes, linens and supplies while negotiating the slow-moving traffic through the area.

"What we have been waiting on is school to start. During the summer, it really hasn't been an issue. We're just going to have to wait and see," McGill said.

Students said they're already figuring out how best to avoid Hillsborough Street in the months ahead while construction continues.

"I'm just going to try and avoid it as much as possible and cut through other areas," graduate student Stacie McGowan said. "As long as you know where to cut through, it's OK, but if you're not a local, it's hard."

"I foresee lots of traffic," senior Scott Miller said. "It's not even the school year yet, and it's still pretty busy. But I think we'll get through."

24 Comments

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  • foetine Aug 14, 2009

    I used to talk with the guy who owned the Hillborough St. McDonalds - he also ran the Western Blvd one. He said he got twice as much student action (even at lunch) on the Western Blvd connection. And Hillborough St businesses took a hit when NC State allowed outside name fast food places to open up on campus instead of the dining hall people.

    The roundabout might make sense at the Hillsborough - Morgan St split that's a mess already. But on the street itself, it becomes another "looks pretty in the brochure" moment. I never saw too many car wrecks on Hillsborough Street when I lived around there for 9 years. But I saw a lot of kids get hit by cars from daredevil stupidity. Faster cars coming out of the roundabouts doesn't seem to help cure this issue - so much as create a quick kill.

    I refuse to go on that street because it's just a pain. now it's going to be worse.

  • methinkthis Aug 14, 2009

    As a skeptic of roundabouts I will concede the safety issue for injuries. However I think some consideration must be given to the size of roundabouts with regard to effectiveness. We have two in my neighborhood and they are so small it really is not necessary to slow to go through them.

    My real issue with the Hillsborough Street rework is that it is using a lot of other peoples money to create an environment that will only be usable by a few cars and local pedestrians. The slowness of travel through the area and limited parking translates to me as a "go shop somewhere else". It favors the pedestrian NCSU community to the detriment of the local residents who will have increased traffic through their neighborhoods. Non-local folks will just have to stay away.

    Also, accommodation should have been made to have a lane open each way for move in week and start of classes. Prior to construction, that time was chaos. Glad I don't live anywhere near it now.

  • Plum Tuckered Aug 14, 2009

    So, the roundabouts will improve traffic flow by allowing it to be more continuous? Maybe so, when pedestrian traffic is light, BUT during much of the day and evening (when school is in session), this will cause problems as drivers who don't need to stop are pitted against pedestrians who will have to cross the street against the now-continuous flow of traffic.

  • ncwebguy Aug 14, 2009

    The Hillsborough Street McDonalds was packed for lunch, empty at night. Why? The staff did *nothing* about beggars *in the restaurant* harassing customers at night. And there was no drive-thru. It was a good reuse of the movie theater, but the anti-NCSU University Park neighborhood never went, which hurt business as well. Eventually the Cameron Village McDonalds killed it, not Hillsborough Street.

    When they ran 2 for $2 Big Mac promotions, I would give the second one away when asked for money for food. Of course they just looked at me funny. I don't know if they were high, or just wanted money.

    One of the area's first Jersey Mikes and Starbucks opened there in the early/mid 90s, but neither survived for long due to the city's neglect of the area by then-mayors Fetzer and Coble. Students' tax revenue was "redistributed" to North Raleigh, yet North Raleigh-ites now complain when money is spent anywhere other than their precious part of the city.

  • Leonardo Aug 14, 2009

    "Where did you get the 40% fewer collisions?"

    A study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr3505.pdf

  • twc Aug 14, 2009

    "They're not putting in roundabouts just to slow traffic. They're putting in roundabouts because they're faster to drive through (you don't have to wait for traffic lights to turn green), and they're safer (compared to regular intersections, roundabouts have 40% fewer vehicle collisions, 80% fewer injuries and 90% fewer serious injuries and fatalities).

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with roundabouts except that people around here aren't used to them. People need to get over their "I don't like it because I don't know it" attitude to everything in life.
    Leonardo"

    Anyone familiar with the roundabout on campus near the arts center should be aware of the kind of problem it is going to create on a much busier Hillsborough St.

    Where did you get the 40% fewer collisions? We'll see different numbers than that! And I've already expressed an opinion about less serious accidents. They will be less serious accidents but there will be an increase--not a 40% decrease!

  • Desiderata Aug 14, 2009

    AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW,...tough luck..

  • Frank Downtown Aug 14, 2009

    It will look so much better when it is done. The East end of Hillsborough that they did 5 or so years back looks nice with the utilities underground and brick sidewalks.

  • seekthesummit Aug 14, 2009

    Thank you for saying that Leonardo.

    I hope people, even doubters, will continue to go support the local businesses during construction. Hillsborough St. shouldn't just be a throughway. It's a face for the university, and a centerpoint of our city. This project should help improve both.

  • Leonardo Aug 14, 2009

    They're not putting in roundabouts just to slow traffic. They're putting in roundabouts because they're faster to drive through (you don't have to wait for traffic lights to turn green), and they're safer (compared to regular intersections, roundabouts have 40% fewer vehicle collisions, 80% fewer injuries and 90% fewer serious injuries and fatalities).

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with roundabouts except that people around here aren't used to them. People need to get over their "I don't like it because I don't know it" attitude to everything in life.

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