Midtown Raleigh News

Mini traffic circles part of plan to slow drivers in Raleigh

Mini traffic circles could make their debut in the city as part of a plan to slow traffic in a neighborhood just outside the Beltline.

City planners on Thursday unveiled their initial plan to improve a stretch of Currituck Drive from Lassiter Mill Road to Tyrrell Road where residents say traffic moves well above the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour.

The plan calls for a number of traffic-calming measures to slow down drivers, including curb extensions, medians and two neighborhood traffic circles.

“It’s designed to be comfortable at 30 miles per hour but uncomfortable faster than that,” said Jason Myers, a city transportation planner.

The circles would be installed at Currituck’s intersections with Tyrrell and Macon Place. A circle with landscaping would sit in the middle of each intersection, and drivers would move around it in the same way they do at larger roundabouts.

The neighborhood traffic circles are used in Durham and other cities but haven’t yet been used in Raleigh.

Myers said that installing the circles is less expensive than some of the other measures that require significant changes to a street’s curbs.

In total, the plan calls for nine measures to slow traffic at a cost of roughly $400,000. A more precise cost estimate won’t be available until the plan is finalized and designs are drawn by engineers. The plan also would add a sidewalk along both sides of Currituck.

Myers said residents made it clear when planners first met with them that the speed limit is fine as is – as long as drivers actually obey it.

Patrick Martin, chairman of the Midtown Citizens Advisory Council, said he’s pleased with the recommendations for a road that too often feels dangerous.

“This is wonderful,” he said. “It’s going to be effective.”

The only downside Martin could see is that the plan will prove so effective that some speedy drivers who use the road as a cut-through will just move to other neighborhood streets.

The planners will use the feedback they got from residents about possible tweaks to the project to help finalize it before it goes to the City Council for approval.

The project is part of the neighborhood streetscape program. If a street qualifies for the project, it is assigned a score and ranked on a priority list. Residents who live along a high-priority street are then asked to submit a petition showing 75 percent of them support a project, to trigger the design phase.

Residents are not charged fees or assessments for the streetscape program. The projects are funded by bond and capital improvement funds.