The Raleigh City Council Tuesday approved moving forward with plans to improve New Bern Avenue.
The New Bern Corridor is one of Raleigh's main eastern thoroughfares into downtown and leads right into one of Raleigh's oldest historic districts. A recent study of the 3.5-mile area included New Bern Avenue and Edenton Street from Swain Street to Crabtree Creek and the Interstate 440 interchange.
The study sought ideas for improving not only the appearance of one of Raleigh's most traveled roads, but also pedestrian and bicycle safety. City officials hope making such improvements will attract new business and revitalize the area.
The study indicates New Bern as Raleigh's cultural corridor, because it highlights the change and growth of the city as it moves outward from an urban landscape to suburban.
To highlight the historical significance, the study recommends using directional signs, public art and historical landmark signs, which would be primarily located downtown. Guidelines would protect the architectural character of the Longview Garden area.
City staff recommended the city encourage construction of high-density residential and tall mixed-use buildings. The city should also encourage development of service-oriented businesses near the WakeMed campus, the study said.
To improve overall safety, the study calls for the use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. An example of such design principals is the use of dead ends on streets in high-crime neighborhoods, which make it more difficult for criminals to leave the area quickly.
The study suggests improving intersections, sidewalks, street lighting and bike lanes to encourage pedestrians and bicyclists.
The plan also calls for increased bus service and shelters. The city is working with Capital Area Transit to reduce the bus wait times to 15 minutes and implement a Bus Rapid Transit system, in which buses use their own travel lanes. Such a change would decrease wait times to 10 minutes.
The study outlines short and long-term goals, which are mostly contingent on planning, design and funding. Since New Bern Avenue is a state-owned street, the city must consult with the North Carolina Department of Transportation on all plans.