"The traffic on this street is pretty fast," said longtime Hillsborough Street business owner Johnny Wardlaw.
Wardlaw said a 1999 plan for several roundabouts would make the street safer. A lot has changed since then, however, and supporters want to make sure the plan doesn't go forward as it was envisioned seven years ago. They said it needs to be modernized.
Even as the street is surveyed and a firm starts to design the first two roundabouts, City Council member Joyce Kekas said she wants city staff to determine if the Hillsborough Vision Plan needs to be tweaked. However, many members of the Hillsborough Street Partnership support the original concept.
"It's not been prospering for 10 years," said former Raleigh Planning Director George Chapman. Chapman now heads up the partnership.
Even with its overall support, however, the group does recommend improvements.
"We are concerned about having adequate parking on the street," said Chapman. "We want to make sure there is loading areas for businesses on the street and make sure pedestrians cross the street safely."
Skeptics of the roundabouts said Raleigh as a city has changed since the late 1990s, and another look is only fair.
Ted Van Dyk is an architect who moved his office to Hillsborough Street six years ago.
"It may be possible that Hillsborough Street become a bit more of a vibrant mixed-use community than perhaps something solely tied to the university," said Van Dyk. "Like much of Raleigh, I think we can set our sights higher on Hillsborough Street."
The city staff is now working on a report to present to the City Council. As part of that report, the city will look at roundabouts that were built in the late 1990s in other cities to see how they are working.
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