Local Politics

Raleigh considers alternative to widening Six Forks Road

Posted April 19, 2016 3:34 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2016 2:06 p.m. EDT

— The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday sent planners back to the drawing board Tuesday for a possible alternative to widening Six Forks Road from four to six lanes.

Between 36,000 and 48,000 vehicles travel on Six Forks Road between Interstate 440 and Lynn Road each day, according to the state Department of Transportation, and city officials want to make the thoroughfare safer, more attractive and friendlier to bicyclists.

After three years of study, city planners recommended a $45 million project that would add two lanes for vehicles as well as bike lanes, reduce the speed limit to 35 mph and install landscaped medians and extensive streetscaping.

Some residents said that would only increase traffic in the area and pose a threat to students walking to and from Brooks Elementary School.

The City Council has asked staff to draw up a plan that would have four wider lanes along with a median and dedicated bus lanes. Council members said they were concerned there were no provisions in the plan for public transit.

Once an alternative plan is complete, the council and the public will have an opportunity to compare the two.

In other business, the City Council endorsed a resolution by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce calling for the repeal of a new state law that sets discrimination policy statewide.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane said House Bill 2 does not reflect Raleigh’s values. The legislation excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections and bars cities and counties from extended such protections to them.

The council also agreed to deal with the Dix Park Conservancy to raise funds for the park. The city paid $52 million to the state last year to acquire the 308-acre site of a former mental hospital, but there is no estimate of the cost to transform it into a major recreational destination for the city.

The nonprofit Dix Park Conservancy has already pledged $3 million toward the effort and agreed to raise more money over the next five years. City officials said they hope to have a team of consultants in place by early 2017 to help guide the transformation.

The city also plans to start offering walking and bus tours of the site south of downtown in the coming weeks, as well as fitness classes and possibly art classes in the park, officials said.

The council also postponed a vote on rules for sidewalk seating at downtown restaurants and bars, saying members need more time to review suggestions presented by a committee, including doing away with the stanchions and "no alcohol" signs and banning picnic tables banned on city sidewalks.

The city placed restrictions on outdoor dining last fall after some downtown residents complained of late-night noise.