Traffic

Should Raleigh borrow $206.7 million for roads, bike paths and sidewalks?

On Oct. 10, 2017, Raleigh voters will be asked to support borrowing $206.7 million for transportation projects in the city, including widening and improving these roads.
On Oct. 10, 2017, Raleigh voters will be asked to support borrowing $206.7 million for transportation projects in the city, including widening and improving these roads.

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce kicked off a campaign Wednesday to encourage Raleigh voters to approve borrowing $206.7 million to widen roads, build new sidewalks and bicycle paths and support other transportation projects in the city.

The Raleigh for Roads campaign will try to make the case that the city needs to spend more to ease traffic congestion. If approved on Oct. 10, the bond would be paid for by up to a 1.29-cent property tax increase that would add $13 to the annual tax bill for each $100,000 in assessed property value.

“It is easy to support a bond like this, especially when every resident will benefit,” said Bo Dempster, an attorney who heads up the Raleigh for Roads campaign committee. “Even more positively, it will ensure our market remains attractive to out-of-town visitors and employers thanks to reliable, safe and accessible street infrastructure.”

A city survey last year found that traffic was the problem Raleigh residents consider most pressing.

“This was the top concern,” city council member Mary Anne Baldwin said Wednesday. “We’re addressing it.”

The bulk of the money – more than $150 million – would go to widen and improve particular roads throughout the city. They include:

▪ Widen Old Wake Forest Road to a four-lane median-divided section from Atlantic Avenue to Capital Boulevard.

▪ Widen Dixie Forest Road to three lanes with sidewalks from Spring Forest Road to Atlantic Avenue.

▪ Widen Tryon Road to four lanes with a median from Lake Wheeler Road to the bridge over the Norfolk-Southern Railroad.

▪ Widen Poole Road to four lanes with a median east of Maybrook Road to Barwell Road.

▪ Widen Blue Ridge Road to three lanes with sidewalks from Duraleigh Road to Crabtree Valley Avenue.

▪ Widen the southern portion of Barwell Road to three lanes from Rock Quarry Road to Berkeley Lake Drive.

▪ Begin the widening of Six Forks Road to six lanes with a median from Rowan Street to Lynn Road.

▪ Convert Blount and Person streets to two-way traffic and build new roundabouts at Person and Delway streets and Wake Forest Road and Brookside Drive.

▪ Widen Rock Quarry Road to five lanes from Creech Road to Sunnybrook Road.

▪ Widen Trawick and Marsh Creek roads to three lanes from Capital Boulevard to New Hope Road.

▪ Widen Atlantic Avenue to four lanes with a median from Highwoods Boulevard to New Hope Church Road.

▪ Add curbs and gutters, sidewalks, bicycle facilities, streetlights and landscaping to Carolina Pines Avenue from Lake Wheeler Road to South Saunders Street.

▪ Widen Leesville Road to four lanes with a median from Westgate Road to Oneal Road at the Leesville school campus.

▪ Design the extension of West Street under the railroad tracks near Raleigh Union Station downtown.

The rest of the money would go toward transportation planning, sidewalk, traffic calming and transit projects throughout the city.

One strength of the bond is that the projects it supports are not concentrated in one part of town, said Dana Martinez, the chamber’s vice president of government affairs.

“We really do have a nice geographic spread of our entire region,” Martinez said.

The chamber has created a website for its campaign, raleighforroads.com, and will distribute fliers and yard signs and visit Citizens Advisory Committee meetings in coming weeks to urge people to support it. Martinez said the chamber’s polling shows broad support for the bond, but it doesn’t want to assume supporters will come out to the polls.

“We don’t want people to take for granted that their neighbor is going to support it so they won’t turn out,” she said.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling

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