For years, the Fayetteville Street Mall in downtown Raleigh has been known as the place for courthouses, bail bondmen and shops that close at five.
"They need to do something," said Raleigh resident Brian Clark. "It's dead around here and they need to improve traffic."
Crews will begin to transform the Fayetteville Street Mall into just plain Fayetteville Street. The $9.4 million street plan also includes a new hotel and coincides with construction of a new downtown civic center and other retail and office projects.
The construction is expected to inconvenience some of the 140 senior citizens and disabled residents of the Sir Walter Raleigh Apartments. What used to be a loading zone is now a no-parking zone.
"I'm totally against it," said James McLawhorn, a resident of the Sir Walter Raleigh Apartments. "They have taken away our place to park, to unload our cars, to get our groceries in or to go to the doctor."
Despite blinking lights, construction fences and relocated crosswalks, city leaders say police will work with business owners and tenants to make the transition as smooth as possible.
And city leaders say an open street will open the door to new businesses.
"This is an economic development project, not just an aesthetics project," Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said.
Plans call for the project to be completed by May 2006.
Durham Also Starting Downtown Road Project
Raleigh isn't the only Triangle city embarking on a new look for downtown. Work is starting Monday on changes in the Bull City.
Crews will modify Chapel Hill and Main streets to allow two-way traffic. Durham city leaders hope the changes will make it easier to get around downtown. The $10 million project also targets Parrish and Corcoran streets and includes a future public plaza area.
Plans also include new lighting, landscaping and decorative paving for sidewalks. The work will take about two years to complete.
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