Midtown Raleigh News

City’s plans pedestrian improvements for a stretch of Capital Boulevard

City officials have begun planning how to make a stretch of Capital Boulevard safer and easier for pedestrians to travel along, an effort that could involve widening the road to eight lanes.

The project is focused on the 1.1-mile section of road between Spring Forest and Old Wake Forest roads, where there is no curb or sidewalk for pedestrians to use.

Eric Lamb, the city’s transportation planning manager, said the lack of pedestrian features doesn’t make sense and isn’t safe, especially since the area has there is bus service.

With that problem in mind, the city requested and won a federal grant for the design portion of the project. The total grant is $560,000, with the federal government paying 80 percent, and the city contributing 20 percent, said Chris Johnson, the design/construction manager for the city.

As a condition of the grant, the city must determine whether the road should be widened from six lanes to eight in anticipation of future needs, so a traffic feasibility study will be conducted to determine the final scope of the project.

Either way, the project is expected to include a curb and gutter and sidewalks on both sides of the road.

Last month the city selected Michael Baker Engineering Inc., a national firm with a branch in Cary, to design the project from a group of eight applicants. The design must be completed by Sept. 30, 2014.

After that, the city must find additional money to fund the project’s construction. Lamb said the city is well-positioned to receive federal money for that phase of the project.

The project is just one facet of the city’s efforts to improve Capital Boulevard. Last year, the city approved a plan to revamp much of the road, although it focuses on areas south of I-440. That plan aims to make the road more pedestrian-friendly as well.