City leaders have a new idea to combat noise and traffic jams downtown: Prevent drivers from turning left on the weekends.
Raleigh staff have proposed a six-month pilot program that would change some traffic patterns in the city’s core from Fridays through Sundays. The public safety committee will continue to gather feedback on the plan at the request of city council member Mary-Ann Baldwin, who leads the committee.
“Before we implement it, I just want to make sure it’s been heard at the highest level,” Baldwin said.
Under the plan, drivers would not be allowed to turn left at three intersections on Fayetteville Street and five intersections along Glenwood Avenue.
Some say the change would keep weekend traffic moving smoothly and reduce noise in the busy Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South districts. Some residents who live in those neighborhoods have complained about late-night partying.
“A lot of times you can’t get down Fayetteville Street at 2 or 2:30 in the morning, so it’s contributing to the noise problems we’re having,” Baldwin said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
It’s unclear if the plan would significantly affect businesses, said David Diaz, president of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
The group met with business owners and taxi companies in March to come up with ways to address traffic and noise issues, Diaz said.
According to city staff, most of the weekend noise downtown comes from taxis waiting for customers on Fayetteville Street.
“There are so many people coming out of the bars, and cabs are trying to time it perfectly to pick someone up,” Diaz said. “They’re right in the middle of the street moving slowly, and the noise from that is flowing up to residents.”
At the meeting in March, the city favored creating taxi zones on Salisbury and Wilmington streets. Patrons looking for taxis would have to walk a block from Fayetteville Street.
But some taxi owners didn’t like the idea.
Fred Platt, general manager at Taxi Taxi, said asking a customer to walk a block to get to a taxi poses a liability issue.
“We’re telling them to walk to another area,” he said. “God forbid something happens to them (before getting to the taxi).”
For years, the city has been trying to strike a balance between a lively night life and downtown dwellers who want quiet.
Last year, city leaders attempted to ease tensions in Glenwood South by setting up a system for residents to voice concerns. This year, Greg Hatem, who owns several restaurants and is often credited for revitalizing downtown, successfully convinced the city council to delay issuing music permits to downtown bars.
No left turns
Raleigh staff proposed prohibiting left turns from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday to Sunday at the following intersections:
▪ Fayetteville Street at Hargett Street
▪ Fayetteville Street at Martin Street
▪ Fayetteville Street at Davie Street
▪ Glenwood Avenue at Johnson Street
▪ Glenwood Avenue at Tucker Street
▪ Glenwood Avenue at North Street
▪ Glenwood Avenue at Jones Street
▪ Glenwood Avenue at Lane Street