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Raleigh Announces Top 5 Road Projects

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RALEIGH, N.C. — For people who are tired of being stuck on a two-lane road, or at red light after red light, Raleigh has a plan.

But the people will pay for it.

The city has compiled a list of its top five road projects, which it is sending to the Department of Transportation. The top priority, far and away, is a $25-million project to synchronize traffic lights all over town.

WRAL has received hundreds of viewer e-mails saying there is too much red and not enough green at the lights. Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker has heard the complaints, too.

"The plan here is to have a real-time system with sensors at the intersections," Meeker said, "with a central computer directing those intersections on when to change the lights."

Raleigh has submitted its wish list for state-funded transportation projects. Which of the projects on the list do you consider the most needed? Signal system upgrade Widening Falls of Neuse Hillsborough St. roundabouts Carrying Blue Ridge Rd. over Hillsborough St. Tryon Rd. extension

No. 2 on the priority list: A $15 million widening and straightening of Falls of Neuse Road. The renovated road would run from Raven Ridge to the Neuse River; Wakefield homeowners lobbied heavy for the project.

No. 3: Another $15 million to improve Hillsborough Street from Gorman to Oberlin. Roundabouts, like the one at North Carolina State University, would replace traffic lights at several intersections.

No. 4: Turn Blue Ridge Road into an overpass at Hillsborough Street. There would be no more stopping for trains, and less stopping during the State Fair.

No. 5: Nearly $17.5 million to extend Tryon Road from Garner Road to Rock Quarry. That will give Southeast Raleigh a badly needed thoroughfare.

All five items add up to a $75.5 million road wish list.

The DOT cannot pay for it all. So citizens may be asked to foot the bill.

The General Assembly would have to give Raleigh leaders permission to raise taxes and fees.

"There's no nice way to collect money," Meeker said. "But we may have to do something like a sales tax on gas, or a change in the registration fee -- something like that, where people who are using the roads, who would get the benefits of improving the roads, also pay for the improvements."

There is no doubt the road projects have a green light with drivers. The question is whether drivers will give the red light to new fees.