Hillsborough Street pleases many; some aren't so sure

Staff WriterAugust 16, 2010 

— The end of construction on Hillsborough Street is eliciting mixed reactions from merchants, motorists and pedestrians.

The revamped road features several changes, most notably the single lane running in each direction. Also added are two new roundabouts near N.C. State University, wider sidewalks, center medians and new parking spaces. Further east, a third roundabout replaces the Y-shaped junction with Morgan Street.

John Moyer, owner of Shakedown Street, a music pub that fronts the thoroughfare, said he is pleased by the additions. The Knightdale resident has faced unusual challenges since opening his pub in January, namely finding parking for bands to unload their equipment before concerts.

Moyer said he hopes decreased traffic backups on the road will make it easier for bands to park temporarily and unpack their instruments.

"The roundabouts are a great design," Moyer said. "Once people get used to them, traffic will flow so much better. It is visually a 100 percent improvement."

Other businesses, like Hillsborough Street Textbooks, still face challenges even if traffic moves at a faster pace down the street. Store manager Christine Murray, a Raleigh resident, said stocking her shop with large book shipments may prove problematic in the future because of the road's new one-lane status.

"Just making the road smaller is silly to me," she said. "Eighteen-wheelers make our deliveries, and they don't have room to park."

The new brick medians offer a refuge for NCSU students crossing the street as they will no longer be forced to brave four lanes of traffic. Patrick Easters, an engineering sophomore, said he feels safer with the new crosswalks in place.

"I can access the local businesses by campus without getting hit," he said. "I feel like I can experience more of Raleigh now."

Joslyn Brenton, a graduate student in sociology, said she no longer gets trapped in traffic while riding her motorized scooter. In particular, she is happy that traffic backups no longer occur near Hillsborough Street and Oberlin Road, thanks to the new roundabout.

"In the grand scheme of things, the construction was a temporary inconvenience," Brenton said. "I'm totally psyched about the new arrangements here."

Others are skeptical the road's changes will bring positive results. Mark Pool, a Raleigh resident and avid bicyclist, said he rides on Hillsborough five or six days a week to pick up organic products from Global Village Organic Coffee, across from campus.

With Hillsborough still without designated bicycle lanes until fall, he said, he worries he will get in another accident like the three he has suffered elsewhere. Pool broke his right femur in a collision near Cameron Village, and he also shattered both wrists after going over the hood of a vehicle in the same area.

"It is still dangerous to bike Hillsborough Street, so at times I ride the sidewalk," Pool said while straddling his 26-year-old Diamond Back bike. "Those are sidewalks, not side rides."

Kate Owens, a Smithfield resident who commutes to Creative Tees & Imaging on the street, said her drive seems easier with construction finished.

"Now it is wider, bigger and easier to get around," she said.

mark.hensch@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8983

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