$2.1 million upgrade aims to make Oberlin Road more like a Main Street

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2014 

An example of what a wider sidewalk with trees and bike racks will look like on Oberlin Road.

CITY OF RALEIGH

— Oberlin Road around Cameron Village could soon be getting $2.1 million in new crosswalks, buried power lines and wider, tree-lined sidewalks to give the busy road more of a Main Street feel.

That’s the recommendation of a 48-page city streetscape plan released Wednesday. The plan is the result of public meetings held last year; city planners are seeking feedback through Aug. 8 before taking the proposal to the Raleigh City Council.

The plan is a big change from the Hillsborough Street-style road narrowing initially proposed for Oberlin. That idea met with opposition from neighbors who feared fewer lanes would mean a massive traffic jam as new apartment residents clog the street.

Planners determined that there’s still room to make Oberlin more pedestrian and bicycle friendly while keeping the existing traffic lane set-up. Retailers in and around Cameron Village say they’re happy with that approach.

“I think the best of both worlds is what they’re talking about – something that doesn’t limit vehicular access but makes a more beautiful streetscape,” said John Pharr, who manages Cameron Village for Regency Centers.

The transformation is already underway with some elements being constructed as part of two mid-rise apartment buildings nearing completion at the corner of Oberlin and Clark Avenue. Both buildings will have ground-floor retail, some of it with sidewalk dining. Crescent Cameron Village has already signed up tenants, including Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, Benelux Coffee and Flywheel Sports.

The streetscape project could lead to more retail fronting Oberlin Road. Here are a few highlights:

• New pedestrian crosswalks at Bedford Avenue and Park Drive ($60,000).

• Underground utility lines between Clark Avenue and Bedford Avenue ($226,000).

• New sidewalks along side streets that don’t have them ($124,725).

• Benches and street trees as a buffer against traffic ($407,500).

• Streetlights with “1920s vintage style fixture” ($53,600).

• Bike racks every 60 feet ($4,500).

Pharr said the amenities will appeal to the young professionals expected to move into the new apartments this fall.

“The apartment residents will very much appreciate it and use it,” he said. “They prefer bicycles, they prefer walking. It’s in their DNA.”

Read the entire plan at bit.ly/1n8zI6n, and email Jason Myers at jason.myers@raleighnc.gov to weigh in.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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