Local News

Proposed Development Near U.S. 401, I-540 OK'd

Posted January 2, 2007 1:20 p.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2007 9:23 p.m. EST

Raleigh's planning commission gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a proposal aimed to help ease growing traffic problems along U.S. Highway 401.

The plan includes the creation of what developers are calling the I-5/401 project—a 260-acre, mixed-use development with 1.6 million square feet of retail, residential and office space. The development will be located near the new section of Interstate 540 and U.S. 401.

Officials said the Highway 401 corridor is one of Raleigh's fastest-growing areas. Many drivers believe the new project would have a negative impact on the area.

"I think it will definitely have an impact," said Jonathon Driver, who has a wine sales route in the area. "I just see more and more growth and development in this area, and I think with this new thing, it's just going to get more and more congested."

Mack Paul with Commercial Properties Development admits traffic will increase in the busy northeast, but added that the proposed mixed-use development will ease the impact.

"People will walk, people will use their cars less than they would otherwise," Paul said. "So, in comparing ours to the type of development that could occur under the existing zoning, our plan could actually have a positive improvement on this corridor."

Transportation planners say traffic is heavy and getting worse along Highway 401 through Northeast Raleigh. In five years, the average rush-hour speeds could slow to 9 mph. That study was done before the I-5/401 proposal.

The project must still receive approval from the Raleigh City Council, which is expected to discuss the proposal at its meeting next Tuesday.

"We're dealing with a lot of assumptions out here, because we don't exactly know how the traffic is going to change, completely," said Eric Lamb with the Raleigh Transportation Department.