Local News

Traffic Changes Lead To Confusion In Downtown Raleigh

Posted June 19, 2006 6:50 a.m. EDT

— Raleigh leaders say the conversion of one-way streets to two-way streets will ultimately help visitors navigate in Downtown Raleigh.

But for right now, some drivers in the area have said they are not used to the recent lane changes of Hargett and Martin streets -- the first of several streets to be converted.

"I don't know which lane is which. I don't know if I'm able to turn or not, and then, I don't know if I'm here to park or not," said driver Michael Pyant. "It's confusing on every end, but we'll figure it out sooner or later."

Pyant was not alone in his confusion.

For example, one motorist drove for two blocks on Hargett Street, thinking it was a one-way street. Other cars followed suit. The driver did not realize the mistake until coming face to face with a vehicle going in the right direction.

Other drivers are also caught off guard with diagonal parking spaces now turned the opposite direction.

"I came in (one) way and couldn't get in a parking spot, so I had to go around," said motorist Bill Sessoms.

The long-term plan is to convert many streets running east and west to two-way traffic. The north-south thoroughfares will remain the same.

"For a while, it's going to be an adjustment," said Assistant Raleigh City Manager Dan Howe. "We feel, in the long run, it's going to be an improvement for how people will use downtown and how they are able to find their way around in downtown."

Howe said the changeover will just take some patience.

"There's going to be a degree of confusion particularly for people who are used to downtown and who have figured out the one-way system," Howe said.

Signs about all the changes are posted at the gateways leading into downtown.

City leaders said there is a side benefit to the conversion: the change will give downtown businesses more sidewalk space and make outside dining easier at some locations.

Most of downtown's roads were once two-way, but were converted to one-way streets in the late 1960s and 1970s when engineers found one-way streets could handle more traffic during peak hours.