Raleigh residents balk at six-lane Six Forks Road

Posted March 9, 2016 6:03 p.m. EST

— Some north Raleigh residents are criticizing a city plan to widen a 2-mile stretch of 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 have 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.

"Six lanes of traffic on Six Forks is not going to be good for the neighborhoods," North Hills resident Patrick Martin said Wednesday.

Raleigh officials said more development in and around North Hills will bring more traffic to an area that already has a crash rate more than two times the state average.

"Right now, that's manageable, but just barely," City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said of the traffic volume on Six Forks Road. "If we don't do anything in the next five years, we're going to be in trouble."

Martin said widening the road won't solve the traffic problem and could make it worse – and not just for drivers.

"We're only three blocks from Brooks Elementary, and the kids from the neighborhood can walk to Brooks easily," he said.

Martin said he believes traffic volume would drop significantly if the city would encourage people to carpool, but Baldwin called that unrealistic.

Councilman Russ Stephenson said he wants to explore more transit options and make improvements to Six Forks Road's existing four lanes to alleviate congestion and improve safety before the city looks at widening the street.

Baldwin said officials need to review the costs involved in various options.

"If we do a dedicated bus lane, what will that cost? What will that cost in terms of right-of-way?" she said. "The second piece is, do we need to widen the road?

"Everybody wants to make sure that we're forward-thinking, that we ask all the right questions and we do the right thing," she added.