Hillsborough Street is one of Raleigh's most recognizable roads, and most observers agree that it's in desperate need of a makeover. After years of debate, however, a plan to make changes to the street has hit a roadblock.
“The plan is certainly stalled at present,” said Mayor Charles Meeker.
The plan to build several roundabouts on the street has been hotly debated by the Raleigh City Council for several months. The intent of the plan was to slow traffic, make the road safer and make the area more business-friendly.
However, Meeker said he only has four votes on the City Council to authorize the start of construction on the first phase. That's not enough to get the plan under way.
“I haven't been able to round up the fifth vote in the last four to five weeks, but there are still a couple (of council members) who are thinking about it,” Meeker said.
In the past, the council has debated the number of parking spots to create, as well as how pedestrian crossings and bus stops would impact traffic. Members have even talked about the width of sidewalks. Despite the discussion, though, council members have not formed a consensus on the overall plan.
Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver has backed off the roundabout proposal, saying there needs to be more of a comprehensive approach to revitalize the street.
“While they may approve the physical characteristics of the area, they may not do enough to catalyze or bring development to the street,” Silver said.
On Sunday, one of the traffic circles was marked off in chalk. Council members said they are trying to envision the plan in motion before final approval. Some members said they aren't sure the roundabouts are the way to go.
"My fear is we only do one roundabout and the city and street are forever impacted if we don't do the three to five to nine – or the ultimate plan was to do 11," said Councilman Philip Isley.
Council members said they hope to finally vote on the Hillsborough Street plan on Jan. 23.