Transportation engineers have refined their options for a pair of bridge replacements that would reshape Capital Boulevard at Peace Street and Wade Avenue.
State Department of Transportation engineers will hold a public information session from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 19 to discuss the planned bridges. They’ll display big maps and discuss two designs for each bridge.
The meeting will take place in the Meymandi Hall lobby at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St. Project information, including the new design options, is online at www.ncdot.gov/projects/CapitalBlvdBridges/.
The project involves rebuilding and upgrading the cramped bridges, both more than 58 years old, where Capital carries 55,000 cars and trucks each day over Peace and under Wade.
DOT proposed to spend about $40 million to replace the half-cloverleaf interchange at Peace and the trumpet-shaped ramps at Wade with bigger but similar structures. But city officials had more ambitious ideas for improving this part of Capital Boulevard, which forms a drab northern gateway to downtown Raleigh.
Along with the two original designs, DOT now is considering:
• A “square loop” design to replace the cloverleaf at Peace. Drivers would get on and off southbound Capital via a realigned Johnson Street, located just south of Peace Street. For northbound traffic, a long, straight exit lane would descend from Capital, cross Peace and rise again to merge with Capital. It’s similar to the design of the Glenwood Avenue interchange at Westgate Road in West Raleigh.
• A “diamond-trumpet” design at Wade Avenue. Northbound Capital drivers would take a long, straight exit ramp and stop at a traffic signal before turning left onto Wade. Wade drivers heading north on Capital would turn left at the same signal.
These options could push the cost up to $54 million, and the city would be asked to cover part of the added expense. Some of the city’s share would come from a $75 million bond issue recently approved by Raleigh voters.
Construction is planned for 2016 and could take more than two years, depending on which option is chosen. Whatever the choice, it will be a project with a long impact on commuter and business traffic.
Whatever design is chosen, Capital Boulevard will be permanently realigned at Peace Street – with the curving lanes moved about 10 feet west – to give builders enough elbow room to construct a new interchange without having to shut down all traffic on Capital.
Businesses near the Peace and Wade interchanges would be affected by the bridge replacement projects, but no homes would be involved. The realignment of Capital would spell doom for several businesses, including Finch’s Restaurant on Peace Street, tucked under the Capital overpass.