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Rapid Growth Causes Traffic Concerns At Raleigh Intersection

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RALEIGH — New homes and old roads do not mix.

That combination is creating one of the Triangle's most dangerous intersections, Trailwood Drive and Thistledown Drive in Raleigh.

The state Department of Transportation says there have been seven serious accidents at the intersection, which they blame on poor traffic patterns.

Residents blame a huge influx of new apartment complexes, which have created thousands of new units and a lot of new problems.

Construction is booming on a formerly rural stretch of Trailwood. In just 18 months, 2,000 new units have gone up. Most are apartments and condos which are marketed to N.C. State students like Mark Minshew, who need affordable housing close to campus.

"It's a task to try and find an affordable apartment that has what you need," Minshew said.

More people mean more cars, and some say traffic in the neighborhood is getting out of control.

City Council member Benson Kirkman represents the area and acknowledges the problems.

"Even some Sunday afternoons I've been over here when suddenly you think, gee, are classes starting? Where are all these cars coming from?" Kirkman said.

Kirkman said that the influx of new apartments has been frustrating for residents.

"You've got places like Thistledown, which started out when they were being built, they were advertising for young professionals. Now they advertise clearly for students," said Kirkman.

Even some students agree the neighborhood has changed. Minshew moved from an apartment to a house, but he does not feel like he has put down roots.

"It lessens the neighborhood a little. You don't really have the chance to meet your neighbors as much, and get used to the same people, when it's just a bunch of students who just stay for a year or maybe just a semester, and then they're gone," Minshew said.

But progress, or at least development, is inevitable in this growing area. Kirkman said the city should find a way to deal with the changes.

"We really need to try to come up with a way to provide the right infrastructure. We're getting tons of money from development fees out here, (and) impact fees out here," Kirkman said.

One suggestion is that the city could use those revenues to widen the streets and sidewalks.

Some residents have suggested that the city should lower the zoning to single-family instead of multi-family so there are more homes than apartments. That is unlikely, but the DOT plans to put a traffic light in at the intersection of Trailwood and Thistledown, and also plans to widen some of the turn lanes if they can find the $140,000 that the project would cost.