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Will A New Durham Mall Create Too Much Traffic?

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DURHAM — A new mall in Durham sounds like a great idea. But the traffic it could bring is pitting several businesses against each other.

Two developers want the Durham City Council to approve their plan to turn almost 250 acres of land near Interstate 40 and Fayetteville Road into the new Southpoint Mall.

Monday night, the council expected to see the results of a traffic study it commissioned in August.

The study was the third one on projected traffic. One was done by South Square Mall on 15-501 in Durham, which says it will be forced out of business if the new mall is okayed. South Square's traffic survey put the increased traffic at 35,000 vehicles per day.

Southpoint's developers say their traffic studies show an increase of only half that.

Durham Transportation Manager Mark Ahrendsen said the city felt it necessary to work from a non-partisan traffic study and hired an outside firm. The report from the outside firm was scheduled to be presented Monday night.

"That was one of the reasons for hiring the firm," he said. "To provide the objective, professional analysis of transportation conditions in that part of the county. To really see what the deficiencies are today, look at the improvements that are planned for the next five to seven years, both public and private improvements, and then look at the growth that is projected and see whether or not additional improvements are going to be needed."

Southpoint would be built at exit 276, off I-40. The site is a field of tall weeds now; in three to four years, if developers get the go-ahead, a $30 million, 1.3 million-square-foot mall may open its doors.


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