Raleigh leaders OK development amid Crabtree mall traffic concerns
Posted April 3, 2012 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2012 5:28 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 on Tuesday to approve a development proposal that could add traffic to an already congested area around Crabtree Valley Mall.
Developer Crabtree North LLC asked for a permit to build 533 residential units and 7,500 square feet of retail space on nine acres near the intersection of Lead Mine and Charles Road – within walking distance to the mall.
Anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 vehicles pass daily through the 1-mile area around the mall, which sits at the corner of Creedmoor Road and Glenwood Avenue near Interstate 440.
City planners have estimated that traffic along the corridor could grow by as much as 70 percent by 2035.
Crabtree North's plan would add more than 1,700 additional motorist trips a day through the Lead Mine Road-Glenwood Avenue intersection with no plan in place to address the growing congestion.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane was the only council member to vote against the plan. Other council members said they still want the traffic issue addressed before the plan moves forward.
Last year, the City Council approved recommendations to mitigate traffic congestion in the area, but planners say the changes are still years away because the city needs to secure millions of dollars in federal funding.
"We did the Crabtree Valley transportation study, because we realized impacts were substantial," McFarlane said. "We asked staff to look at this area because we realized it would be too much. They have readily admitted that there is a problem they can't solve. This (proposed development) is going to compound the problem that we do not have the ability to solve and people are going to be asking us why pretty soon, and it’s for that reason I can’t support this project. “
Among the suggestions from a $250,000 study were creating a new exit off Interstate 440 to keep mall traffic off Glenwood Avenue and routing those vehicles along an extended Crabtree Valley Avenue right to the mall.
The study also called for closing the Ridge Road exit off I-440 and connecting the road to Glenwood Avenue instead.
In the meantime, city staff is looking at other alternatives, such as implementing stricter development rules for the area, but that study is still months away from being complete.