RALEIGH — The state will begin removing the Hillsborough Street bridge over Western Boulevard on Saturday, part of a $2.7 million project to modernize a tangle of roads west of the N.C. State Fairgrounds.
The state Department of Transportation plans to tear down the bridge, eliminate the curved roadway and re-align Hillsborough Street to create a right-angle intersection with Western Boulevard.
The revamp will result in a friendlier layout for buses, cyclists and pedestrians, say Raleigh transportation planners who worked with the state to design the project.
Barring weather delays, crews will close eastbound Hillsborough Street near the intersection to allow the contractor to begin work at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Instead of using the bridge, eastbound drivers will stay on Western Boulevard and turn left at Blue Ridge Road to get back to Hillsborough Street. The detour will remain in effect until work ends next September.
The 70-year-old bridge does a poor job of handling traffic and requires continual maintenance, according to the DOT.
The state had planned to replace the bridge. But in 2009, Raleigh asked the DOT to hold off while the city studied how to spur redevelopment in the Jones Franklin Road area.
Because the roads carry a lot of traffic, the contractor, Fred Smith Co. of Raleigh, will not be allowed to close lanes on Western Boulevard or Hillsborough Street during heavy traffic periods, including special events at the State Fairgrounds, PNC Arena, WakeMed Soccer Park and Carter-Finley Stadium.