City Council on Tuesday night approved the second phase of the Hillsborough Street Revitalization Project, one that has sparked controversy among local business owners.
The public hearing for the project opened with a presentation to councilors. As part of the second phase of the street’s redevelopment, the project will remove four traffic lights on Hillsborough Street and replace them with three roundabouts.
The city staff member presenting said, “We have demonstrated that roundabouts are very safe and very efficient.”
The length and scope of the project is to put five foot bike lanes on both sides of the street and eliminate left turns while allowing U-turns in the roundabouts. It was noted that numerous stakeholders had participated in and contributed to the process.
Rusty Mau, NCSU’s student body president, spoke in favor of the project. He cited its improved pedestrian safety measures such as new crosswalks and raised medians. Others in favor stated that it had been a long and thorough public process.
Those in opposition stated that businesses would lose customers due to the lack of a left turn lane, and that trucks would have nowhere to unload goods meant for businesses because the center turn lane will have been replaced with a median.
When the public hearing was closed, staff noted that the next steps were for workshops, events, and committee meetings to be held in the coming months.
“We’ve been talking a long time about this,” Councilor Maiorano said.
City council voted and Phase II of the Hillsborough Street Revitalization project was authorized to proceed.
Danny Coleman of the Southeast Citizens Advisory Council and several others spoke to councilors Tuesday night about the need to keep Rex Hospital Senior Health Center (SHC) in southeast Raleigh. The SHC is being relocated due to the renovation of Stone’s Warehouse.
“We know Rex doesn’t make a profit,” Coleman said, “but the community profits tremendously.”
Others talked not just about the SHC administering care but also the workshops it holds on topics such as diabetes and prostate cancer. It was also noted that it is in walking distance from many of those seeking care from the center.
“I appreciate the comments that I’ve heard,” Councilor Weeks said, adding that Transfer Company was helping Rex move to a new location in southeast Raleigh. “Make no mistake about it — I am personally interested and engaged in solving this.”
In the public hearing session, Item 1 concerned the establishment of vested rights in relation to Crabtree Valley Mall. The issue was resolved before the hearing. Item 2, which concerned a utility extension agreement in Austin Creek, was deferred until the first meeting in March.
An item about a flood map revision for Mitchell Mill Road was approved unanimously, as well as traffic calming measures to be placed on five neighborhood streets. A text change altering a section of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) was then approved.