Report on Peace Street/Capital Blvd Intersection Charrette

posted May 30, 2012, 7:50 PM by Philip Bernard
Approximately 25 neighbors, Raleigh City staff, and downtown living advocates attended a charrette at the new AIA Headquarters on Peace Street on Wednesday May 23 at 6pm.
 
The purpose of the charrette was to allow attendees to envision different ways that the intersection at Peace and Capital Blvd might be designed in advance of the NCDOT's replacement of the Capital Blvd bridge over Peace street. The charrette was sponsored by Link Peace, a group of downtown living advocates who have proposed an "at grade" intersection in lieu of the bridge replacement. The group also asks that City staff and planners consider alternate methods of dealing with traffic, bike, and pedestrian modes of travel in the future.
 
After a short introduction, attendees broke into small groups to sketch out drawings of potential options for the intersection. Initially, many questions were asked about the different options that had been considered up to this point and downtown living advocates were on hand to suggest ways that the "at grade" option might be feasible. City staff were on hand to answer questions about the current favored "square loop" design of the intersection which includes replacing the bridge but closing all but one of the ramps north of the intersection. They then propose adding two new " square loops" that would be constructed on either side of capital boulevard south of the intersection that would provide access off and onto Capital Blvd to and from Peace Street.
 
Quite a few residents from the Cotton Mill condominium development expressed concern that their already challenging egress and ingress would be further compromised by the "square" loop option. City staff on hand discussed ways that the egress/ingress might be improved thru a designated right of way thru Jersey Mike's parking area from a stop light intersection on Peace St. - - a route which is already used by many Cotton Mill residents. City staff mentioned that there is still tweaking to be done on the plan to make it more user friendly.
 
The downtown living advocates on hand advocating an "at grade" intersection readily admitted that they were not traffic engineers, but they did want to encourage city staff and NCDOT engineers to consider ways of reducing the traffic on Capital Blvd
so that the amount of traffic could be reduced on Capital entering the downtown area . This reduction in traffic volume would allow the intersection at Peace and Capital to become more like a typical intersection in the dowtown area street grid and achieve the group's goal of moving downtown a little further north.
 
After sketching for over an hour, groups and indiviuals made presentations ranging from a modified square loop design to an at grade otion that would be achieved by re-directing traffic from Wade avenue across the CSX railway on to Halifax Street. One option presented  suggested that the bridge remain but there would be no access to and from Peace Street making Peace Street an uninterupted east/west corridor. Another sketched showed how Capital Blvd "should have" been designed when it was first built with parallel access roads and no bridges at all!
 
In conclusion, Ken Bowers City deputy planning director commented that whatever plan is adopted it has to be one that will be approved not only by Raleigh City Council, but by NCDOT,and the federal highway commission. He reminded everyone that City Council will be reviewing the recommendations of the Capital Blvd Corridor Study at their meeting on June 17 and encouraged anyone from the charrette to attend and make comments.
 
Most comments that I have received from Mordecai residents who could not attend the charrette favored replacing the bridge because they felt that with the volumn of cars on Capital Blvd it would be a nightmare for pedestrains and bicyclist to cross safely. At the charrette, I asked if there were any current models of bridged intersections in existence that had been replaced with "at grade" intersections? The answer was that only bridge systems which had failed and not been replaced were the current model.      
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