RALEIGH, N.C. — After going in circles for months, the Raleigh City Council approved a plan to put two roundabouts in the Hillsborough Street area.
The City Council passed the measure Tuesday by a vote of 6-2, with council members Philip Isley and Tommy Craven opposing the plan.
The plan calls for two roundabouts, possibly four, but it will not include the 11 roundabouts that were originally proposed.
“I think sometimes we do have to do what I call creative tension where you have to stretch that rubber band as long as you don't break it and I think we stretched it to that point that we will come out with a much better product,” Councilman James West said.
The new plan will bury utilities in a five-block area, create more than 200 on-street parking spaces on both sides of Hillsborough Street and provide a median to help students cross the street safely. The plan is supported by N.C. State and most businesses and residents in the area.
“The roundabouts and the parking are the key to changing the character of the street. It will slow the traffic and it will not only slow it but create a sense of place here which has been what's missing for many years,” said George Chapman of the Hillsborough Street Partnership.
Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver said the location of the roundabouts will serve as a gateway to the university district and an entry to the city. Most importantly, he said, it's a plan that is sustainable for the long term.
“We really looked at it from an economic development point of view,” he said.
More detailed designs for the roundabouts will now be drawn up. The entire project is likely to cost between $6 million and 7 million. Nearly $3 million is already set aside from a previous bond.
It is now up to the city manager to figure out where the rest of the money will come from. Mayor Charles Meeker said the money could come from streetscape funds, impact fees or even other bond projects that are delayed.