The debate on improving Lake Wheeler Road continues. At the most recent public meeting for the Lake Wheeler Road improvement project held on March 28, citizens worked with City staff to provide feedback and hash out concerns about the improvements planned between Centennial Parkway and Tryon Road. These improvements include adding two turn lanes to improve traffic flow and constructing pedestrian amenities along the west side of the road to address pedestrian safety (i.e. to cover the goat trails). This is the first phase of a long-range plan to improve/upgrade Lake Wheeler Road.
I was not at the meeting, but have heard mixed reviews about what transpired. Things seemed to be moving in the right direction after the Lake Wheeler Road charrette held in November of 2011, however some citizens did not feel comfortable with what they heard. I’m now concerned that if these issues aren’t addressed, this project will blow up at the City Council public hearing on May 1, 2012—and all the hard work that’s gone into this project will sidetrack it—and I don’t want us to jeopardize any Federal monies slotted to fund these improvements.
One source told me that the current plan is light-years ahead of what we were 15 or even 5 years ago. So what’s the latest and how can you chime in? In this post, I’ve provided information on the next public meeting, a few thoughts on downgrading the road classification, the project scope, and the project purpose.
Public meeting on April 18
City staff will be available from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. to review/discuss the mapping and answer any questions you may have regarding the project. Beginning at 6:30 P.M., a public meeting will convene and a short presentation will be made explaining the preliminary design. At the conclusion of the presentation, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions or make comments concerning the design.
Downgrading Lake Wheeler Road to a minor thoroughfare
One of the major topics that has come up at recent meetings is the current road classification for Lake Wheeler Road. Right now, it’s a major thoroughfare which calls for a (future) five-lane road or a 4-lane road with a median. At the November charrette, those who attended expressed interest in changing Lake Wheeler Road from a Major Thoroughfare to a minor thoroughfare. This would limit Lake Wheeler Road to a undivided four-lane street. Ideally, Lake Wheeler Road would max-out as a three-lane road with either a center turn lane or a divided median to maintain the neighborhood character.
Some residents were hoping the downgrade request could be taken care of during the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) process, but to date (and our knowledge), no progress has been made on this front.
I think it’s very important that we are sensitive to the neighborhoods and the historical value Lake Wheeler Road provides. This corridor plays a key role in transitioning from country farms and Historic Yates Mill Pond County Park to the more urban downtown Raleigh. Lake Wheeler Road is not a super highway to get to downtown—it’s a walk through Raleigh’s history, nestled beside quaint neighborhoods. The future Lake Wheeler Road should be a multi-modal parkway that transports people from rural to urban and from urban to rural—on foot, on bikes, in vehicles, and on public transportation.
This project involves the construction of sidewalk and multi-use path on the west side of Lake Wheeler Road from Centennial Parkway to Tryon Road (1.6 miles) and will include the installation of turning lanes at Carolina Pines Avenue and Linberry Drive. The project also includes the installation of concrete pedestrian refuges at the I-40 ramp locations and some driveway modifications to aid with pedestrian safety. Sidewalk will be constructed from Centennial Parkway to Lawrence Drive and a multi-use path will be constructed from Lawrence Drive to the Raleigh Oaks Shopping Center Driveway.
Purpose and need
Lake Wheeler Road is a major thoroughfare in Raleigh carrying 19,000 vehicles per day. Lake Wheeler Road exists as a two-lane roadway within a varying 60′ to 80′ right-of-way. City of Raleigh standards call for Lake Wheeler Road to be constructed as a four-lane median divided roadway with sidewalks and striped bicycle lanes on both sides.
By the 2035 traffic along Lake Wheeler near I-40 is forecasted to increase 40% to 26,605 vehicles per day. This roadway is a critical north-south commuting route into Raleigh and the proposed street improvements will help alleviate congestion and improve bottlenecks at two key intersections and increase pedestrian safety and mobility with the construction of sidewalks and a multi-use along the west side of the road. There is a worn path along much of the corridor illustrating the heavy pedestrian demand in the area. Approximately 1/2 of the project is also within the City’s Urban Progress Zone. The proposed project will serve lower income and minority populations along the corridor.
Estimated construction costs are $2,150,000.00 and the project should be completed by Fall 2013.
How are Major and Minor Thoroughfares defined?
Definitions from the 2030 Comprehensive Plan Transportation section:
- Major thoroughfares are typically undivided five-lane streets or four-lane streets with medians on 90 feet of right-of-way. Non-arterial major thoroughfares serve both residential or non-residential land uses. Examples are Spring Forest Road and Rock Quarry Road.
- Minor thoroughfares are typically
undividedfour-lane streets on 80 feet of right-of-way. These roadways are appropriate where adjacent land uses are low- to medium-density residential or where existing driveways are limited, such that a continuous center turn lane serves no useful purpose. Correction: The City of Raleigh has updated the “undivided” portion of minor thoroughfares to utilize the same street footprint, and instead use three-lane section with bike lanes.
- Lake Wheeler Road Pedestrian and Turn Lane Improvements
- Grants Assist City in Lake Wheeler and Creedmoor Road Improvements
- The Future of Lake Wheeler Road Charrette