A public hearing has been scheduled for February 7 on the $7 million second phase of the Hillsborough Street Revitalization Project.
If authorized by City Council, the project will remove four traffic lights from the intersection of Rosemary and Shepherd Street to Gardner Street. Three single-lane roundabouts will take the place of three traffic lights, with the final traffic light being replaced by a right-in, right-out street with a westbound left turn lane.
During Tuesday’s afternoon session, City Council scheduled a public hearing to consider improvements to Hillsborough Street.
According to Chris Johnson, the Design/Construction Manager in the Public Works department, 80 percent of the design process for phase II is complete. The public hearing will be a “great last step,” said Johnson, and will feature voices of support and of opposition.
Johnson expects a high turnout.
According to the agenda packet, the project aims to “create a more pedestrian-friendly environment by improving pedestrian safety and convenience, enhancing motorist safety, and supporting revitalization efforts.”
Phase II, Johnson said, is an extension of Phase I of the project, taking the improvements to Hillsborough Street further west. Phase II will eventually establish bike lanes and improve the ability to walk on sidewalks, as well as upgrade water and sewer systems that are in disrepair.
While both Phase I and Phase II include a mixture of roundabouts and traffic lights, Phase II will predominantly replace traffic lights with single-lane roundabouts, which are more effective during all times of the day except for peak hours.
Johnson said many of the stakeholders in the area have participated in the public input process, including the North Carolina Department of Transportation, North Carolina State University, the Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation, and various Citizen Action Committees.
The City’s Appearance Commission and the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission have also been involved in the process.
Irv Coats, owner of The Reader’s Corner at the intersection of Rosemary and Shepherd Street, said although he would be losing some of his parking lot to the proposed construction, he would “bite the bullet” if it meant that Hillsborough Street would look better.
Tess Evans, assistant manager at Coffee Haven, said she could understand the reasoning behind the project. “Since our clientele is mostly students and faculty, I definitely want to see them safe.”
While the majority of responses has been positive, Johnson said, a few business owners have been concerned. They will have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the City Council public hearing, when City Council votes on whether to approve the project.