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Rolesville braces for population explosion

Wake County's smallest town is also the state's fastest-growing municipality. And its population will quadruple in the next five years, its mayor predicts.

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ROLESVILLE, N.C. — Rolesville is Wake County's smallest town – but also the state's fastest-growing municipality. And its mayor estimates the town's population could quadruple in the next five years.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the town's population grew by 29 percent in 2007, jumping to about 2,200 people. Mayor Frank Eagles said he believes that number is conservative and that his town has closer to 2,800 residents.

By 2013, 10,000 people will call Rolesville home, Eagles projected.

Those predictions were the talk at a local hair salon – as were concerns about the strain growth will put on the town's infrastructure, particularly roads.

"I'm picturing a lot of orange barrels over the next five years," said customer John Shriver, who is thinking about moving to Rolesville.

Traffic on U.S. Highway 401, a two-lane road that is the primary artery through Rolesville, was a primary concern of many residents.

"From what my clients tell me, it's horrible," Kim Neathery, owner of Hair Trendz, said. "They're all trying to find alternate routes to get to Raleigh."

"Leaving in the evenings, it's hard taking a left turn here, especially with this being a two-lane road," resident Kim Bohannon said.

Eagles said town leaders share residents' concerns about U.S 401, which 27,000 vehicles pound each day.

The mayor said that number will rise as the population grows, but he hopes the construction of a bypass will alleviate that traffic woe. Eagles said he expects the state Department of Transportation to complete the bypass around 2011.

Eagles said the town's goal is to achieve balanced growth, bringing in the right amount of business and residential development.

"We need the commercial things, the department-store type things," the mayor said. "We have a lot of houses on the books, and they're going to be built in the next five years."

The town has seen tremendous growth before, but spread over 15 years, when its population tripled from 572 residents in 1990 to 1,711 in 2006.

Residents said they do not want Rolesville to lose its character in the predicted population explosion.

"I think it still has that small-town feel, where you feel like you know everybody and see everybody around town," Bohannon said.


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