Decision Time Nears, Final Public Meeting on Capital Boulevard Bridge Design April 22

Peace Street interchange with Capital Boulevard

Peace Street interchange with Capital Boulevard.

On April 22, NCDOT is hosting a public meeting to show off the final designs for the new Capital Boulevard bridge at Peace Street. According to their timeline, after the public comment deadline of May 23, the decision on which alternative to go forward with will be made.

We’ve discussed the details up to this point but if you need a refresher, jump to this November 2013 post:

*New Capital Boulevard Designs Out, Status Quo versus New Connections

In combination with plans for a new Wade Avenue interchange bridge, not being discussed on this blog, the public hearing on April 22 should show off the most up-to-date plans for the two Peace Street alternatives, those being:

  • The base alternative
  • The P5, or enhanced, alternative.

The base alternative is a one-to-one replacement of what we have today. A new bridge will be built and the same on/off ramps will exist, just like today. It’s possible that this alternative may get a two-lane on-ramp with northbound Capital Boulevard from Peace Street, the right lane being a right-turn lane for the Cotton Mill parking lot, but that is essentially the biggest change here.

The favored alternative, by the city, the state, and informally from readers of this blog, to the best of my knowledge, is the P5 alternative, also known as “The Square Loop.” This plan brings back the grid and creates an area that’s more attractive to development, more pedestrian friendly, and transitions Peace Street to better urban form.

Alternative P5, or Square Loop, for the new Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street. Click for larger.

The problem here is that The Square Loop plan is costlier due to the need for more property acquisition and street reconfiguration. The $11 million dollar difference between the two plans does not make the favored plan guaranteed. This is where the city has to step up and make this happen as it will most likely be more expensive to implement in the future if not done alongside this bridge replacement project.

More to come after the public meeting.

Capital Boulevard Bridge Replacement Projects Public Hearing

Date/Time: Tues. April 22, 2014 4-7pm (open house format, drop in any time)
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Memorial Lobby
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
919-707-6010

Municipography, Capital Boulevard, New Convention Hotel, and The Comprehensive Plan Update

Municipography is a summary of current issues going through the Raleigh City Council and other municipal departments in the city. The point is to try to deliver any video, photos, and text associated with the discussions happening at City Hall or elsewhere. Since this is a downtown Raleigh blog, the focus is on the center of the city.

Email readers, this post contains embedded video which you may not see in your inbox. I recommend jumping to the blog to see all the content.

Last week at the Raleigh City Council meeting, a few projects we’ve discussed on the blog were presented and discussed. The council approved the sale of the city-owned lot on Salisbury Street, known as “Site 4”, to Summit Hospitality Group, Ltd who plans to build a hotel. The plans for the new Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street were also discussed as construction on that project is planned for Summer 2016. Finally, an update on the 2030 Comprehensive Plan was given by the planning department.

Residence Inn on Salisbury Street

See Raleigh City Council – 2-18-14 – City of Raleigh and Summit Hospitality Group on YouTube.

In short, the council approved the sale of Site 4 to Summit Hospitality Group, Ltd to build a Residence Inn hotel. This sale was recommended by the Budget and Economic Development Committee last month and now makes it final.

From the city’s press release:

Following a Feb. 18 Public Hearing, the Raleigh City Council approved the sale of .52 acres on South Salisbury Street, between South Street and Lenoir Street, to Raleigh-based Summit Hospitality Group, Ltd. Approval of the $1.73 million deal will result in the construction of an 11-story Marriott Residence Inn with 140 to 154 additional rooms within walking distance of the Raleigh Convention Center. The site is also known as Site 4 and is considered to be “one of the most important infill sites within the Convention and Cultural District” in the City’s South End Master Plan.

*Sale of Downtown Site Approved

For more details on this project, jump to a recent post with all the details.

Capital Boulevard Bridge

See Raleigh City Council – 2-18-14 – NCDOT Capital Boulevard Bridge Replacement Projects on YouTube.

The Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street is slated for replacement in the next few years and designs have been in the works for quite awhile. The latest on this topic is covered in good detail in the post linked below, including some excellent conversation by readers.

Between the “base” alternative (cheaper) and the “enhanced” alternative (costlier) this is where the city has to step up. There is strong public support for the enhanced alternative but the feds only have enough money for the base alternative.

According to the presentation, in May 2014 an alternative will be chosen with construction planned for Summer of 2016.

From the city’s press release:

Each bridge is proposed for replacement under the Federal Highway Administration’s bridge replacement program. City staff has coordinated the replacement of these bridges with NCDOT to be consistent with the City’s adopted Capital Boulevard Corridor Plan. In each case, NCDOT has developed base alternatives that rebuild each interchange following the existing configuration, and enhanced alternatives that more closely follow the City’s corridor plan recommendations. In order to pursue the enhanced alternatives at either location, the City would be required to pay for the difference in cost above each base alternative.

*Council Reviews Alternatives for Capital Boulevard Bridge Replacement Projects

2030 Comprehensive Plan Update

See Raleigh City Council – 2-28-14 – 2030 Comprehensive Plan – January 2014 Progress Report on YouTube.

The 2014 Progress Report was presented to council and can be found on the city’s website. Some highlights from the presentation:

  • Our city’s comprehensive plan continues to be a national model for city planning.
  • Updates are meant to keep the plan up-to-date with emerging trends and any city restructuring.
  • Of the total 465 action items since adoption, 61 have been completed and now removed, 275 are in progress and 50 have still not been started.

The newest emerging trends that city staff will be studying are:

  • Community Resiliency – planning for extreme weather and emergencies and how the city continues to be responsive and can recover.
  • Innovation Districts – how to foster new growth nodes around unique ideas and innovation.
  • Autonomous Vehicles – how to plan for the upcoming use of self-driving cars and taxis.
  • Sharing Economy – services like bike share, car share, self-rental properties are a future trend. Examples include Airbnb, ZipCar, and B-Cycle.

New Capital Boulevard Designs Out, Status Quo versus New Connections

Peace Street at Capital Boulevard

Cyclists ride under the Capital Boulevard bridge at Peace Street

Last night, NCDOT were showing off proposed design alternatives of the upcoming bridge replacements for Capital Boulevard at Peace Street and Wade Avenue. This is an upcoming project that comes out of the need to replace these approximately 50-year-old bridges before they become functionally unsafe. There are plans for two different alternatives for each bridge and I wanted to go over the bridge designs at the Capital and Peace intersection.

The two alternatives are being referred to as Alternative P-Base and Alternative P5. In my opinion, you have the status quo in the P-Base alternative and a new design in P5. However, as is to be expected the P-Base plan is the cheaper of the two. Let’s get in to each before comparing the two against each other.

Alternative P-Base

Alternative P-Base for the new Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street. Click for larger.

Like I stated earlier, the P-Base plan seems to have the least impact to the area and delivers a new bridge with the same street design around it. Entering and exiting Capital Boulevard from Peace Street is almost the same as today.

There are a few enhancements here that will help vehicles turn. The northbound entrance ramp to Capital from Peace would be two lanes wide, the right-most lane being a turn lane for the Cotton Mill parking lot. Also, when exiting downtown on Capital heading north, a right-most fourth lane will pop-out and feed the exit onto Peace Street. The same principals are there for exits and entrances on southbound Capital, where a fourth lane exists for merging compared to the abrupt turn lane that’s there now.

It also looks like the entrance to the small row of shops (Jersey Mike’s, Dry Clean City, etc.) will not have that little driveway onto the northbound Capital ramp.

Alternative P5

Alternative P5 for the new Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street. Click for larger.

P5 has a lot more going on around the same new bridge that will be built. Capital Boulevard entrances and exits have been moved and will result in a new traffic pattern. Before we go over these, it’s important to show the new street connections that are proposed.

Harrington Street would play a much bigger role in the P5 plan. Here, Harrington would kind of “punch” through and connect to Peace Street, accomplished through the use of property acquisition. This would create a brand new, signalized intersection.

Nearby along southbound Capital, the parallel service street, intersecting Johnson Street to the north, would be redone as well. Rather than an awkward turn off Capital, you could now make a right turn, with a dedicated turn lane, onto a connecting Johnson Street. This then drops you off at Johnson and Harrington and off into Glenwood South.

Along northbound Capital, new to any proposed design yet, is a longer off-ramp with driveways to Johnson Street to the south of Peace and a turn lane to the Cotton Mill on the north. This off-ramp will create another signalized intersection at Peace Street.

So with these additions, there are some things that are removed. Gone are the “cloverleaf” style on/off ramps at Capital on to Peace. With the addition of the Johnson Street connection and Harrington Street extension, traffic should flow through here in its place.

Matching Them Up

The two plans don’t share much but walkers and cyclists get a win with both. Peace Street will get 5-foot bike lanes and what looks like wider sidewalks, which are desperately needed as nature is reclaiming the current pedestrian paths on the south side.

A minor detail that I thought was important is that both plans call for 11-foot lanes on Capital Boulevard. This actually contradicts the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study’s “Happy Motoring” section stating that 12-foot lanes were something to work towards. I believe that increasing those lane widths would have created faster speeds, more vehicles, and more traffic along Peace Street. I commented in support of the 11-foot lanes for either plan as it compliments an urban area better.

Cost of the two plans is drastically different. According to last night’s handout:

  • P-Base – $26.4 Million
  • P5 – $37.4 Million

That’s an $11 million dollar difference. The bulk of the reason comes from the property acquisition involved in each alternative, 5 versus 12 properties in the area.

Overall, I left comments in support of the P5 alternative. Simply put, this area is pretty much a place to get through and not stop in. We already know that delivering the same thing will most likely produce little new results so we almost owe it ourselves to find that $11 million and try something new.

I feel the P5 alternative slows traffic down and starts to transition the area towards one with better urban form. I’m a huge fan of a grid-like street network and this alternative creates that in the new connection at Johnson Street and the Harrington Street extension. If we can add in on-street parking along these areas, interest in new development could increase. It can’t get any lower as the area only consists of sprawl-like, one-story buildings with surface parking.

NCDOT is taking input on the alternatives over the next few weeks. Here’s the project page on the NCDOT website with contact information so you can submit your thoughts.

The handout also gave us a project timeline.

  • Winter 2013 – Environmental Assessment
  • Spring 2014 – Public Hearing
  • Fall 2014 – Final Environmental Document
  • Fiscal Year 2015* – Begin Right of Way Acquisition
  • Fiscal Year 2016* – Begin Construction

[UPDATE: 11-21-13]
I’ve added the cross section of Peace Street which shows the 5-foot bike lanes on each side of the street. The cross section is pretty much the same between the two alternatives. Click for a larger view.

Upcoming NCDOT Public Meeting To Show Off Latest Peace Street, Capital Boulevard Bridge Designs

Peace Street at Capital Boulevard

Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street

It’s been almost a year and a half since there’s been any major news on the re-design for the area around the Capital Boulevard bridge that goes over Peace Street. On November 19, the NCDOT wants to show off the latest designs for that area.

Public Meeting for the proposed replacement of the Capital Boulevard bridges

Date/Time: Tues., Nov. 19 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Open House)
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Meymandi Hall Lobby
2 East South Street, Raleigh

This project comes up because the current bridge is nearing the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced before safety is put at risk. The city is working with the state to find a working solution and this project falls inline with the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study, a much greater strategy to re-invigorate the entire corridor from downtown Raleigh up to I-440.

Project website: Peace St. /Wade Ave. Bridge Replacements on Capital Blvd.

We’ll see what is shown at the meeting and the public can certainly comment on the new designs as we’re still in the planning phases.

On a related note, a friend of mine shared an interesting article with me where a similar bridge replacement was done up in New York state on I-84. Watch the video (shown below or in the linked article) and read about the technique called accelerated bridge construction. Makes you curious as to why this couldn’t be done here at Capital and Peace to save a little money. (and upsetting nearby businesses)

This Ingenious Way to Build Bridges Will Fix Our Crumbling Infrastructure via Wired.com

Municipography, Capital Boulevard and a Transit Tax

Municipography is a summary of current issues going through the Raleigh City Council and other municipal departments in the city. The point is to try to deliver any video, photos, and text associated with the discussions happening at City Hall or elsewhere. Since this is a downtown Raleigh blog, the focus is on the center of the city.

I recommend email readers click through to the website to see the embedded video.

This week, there was action at both the city and county level. Heated comments took place at the Wake County Commission meeting over a tax increase that would support expanded transit options in the county. Raleigh city staff presented the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study, a vision to remake the area from Peace Street all the way to I-440.

Capital Boulevard Corridor Study

City staff presented a general overview of the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study as well as some of the data gathered and citizen feedback. After some light conversation, the city council moved it to the Comprehensive Planning Committee for further review. An endorsement of the plan is needed before August to align with the NCDOT’s plans to design new bridges for Capital Boulevard at Peace Street and Wade Avenue.

Councilors briefly mentioned the topic of the at-grade intersection at Capital and Peace so I expect more conversation about it at the committee meeting. Still, city staff has added some excellent reading as an appendix to the corridor study and breaks down the metrics of measuring an intersection’s effectiveness. They explain the advantages and disadvantages of each interchange design including one type of at-grade proposal.

Wake County 1/2 Cent Sales Tax For Transit

On Monday:

In a 4-to-3 vote along party lines, members of the Wake County Commission Monday turned down a proposal to consider a transit plan and a half-cent sales tax referendum for this November’s ballot.

Commissioner Erv Portman presented the motion, at the very end of a meeting during which more than 20 people spoke in favor of putting the referendum on this November’s ballot.

Although Monday’s meeting agenda included no mention of the sales tax for an expanded transit plan in the Triangle, the topic dominated the public comment period.

Commission Votes Against Debate on Transit Sales Tax via Raleigh Public Record.

To hear/watch the public comment period, jump over to the Wake Board of Commissioners meeting agenda for June 18, 2012.

The needed 1/2 cent sales tax increase to secure a source of funding before transit in Wake County can be expanded has now been kicked down the road again. Durham County has approved it and is waiting for Orange and Wake Counties to do the same before they start collecting.

Orange County votes on the 1/2 cent sales tax increase this November.

Introducing Link Peace Street, A Resident Backed Alternative For Capital Boulevard and Peace Street

Peace Street with Capital Boulevard bridge

There’s a new project that’s growing some legs in downtown Raleigh. Link Peace Street is a vision from Raleigh residents for a more walkable environment on Peace Street. It coincides with the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study and hopes to put another alternative onto the table that is currently not being considered. I’m helping out with the effort and the core focus of it revolves around creating a plan for an at-grade intersection at Capital Boulevard and Peace Street.

Over the next few days, more information will be put onto the vision website of Link Peace Street so I encourage readers to check out the site we’ve built and sign up for updates.

Link Peace Street revolves around three main goals,

  1. Economic development in a form that fits into downtown Raleigh.
  2. Strengthen the connections between neighborhoods.
  3. Deliver on the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

The Capital Boulevard Corridor Study, taking public comments at this time, targets private investment in the area using several projects. Some of those include an expanded greenway, a park at the old Devereux Meadow site, and multiple tweaks to Capital Boulevard itself. We’ve mentioned here before that the state of North Carolina is going to replace the bridge over Peace Street within a few years. The study wants to piggyback on that project and is considering some alternative routes to getting on and off of Peace Street. You can read about those alternatives on the Peace Street Vision document in the sidebar on the city’s website. These ideas are what planners think will help spur private investment in the area.

All plans being considered so far include the new NCDOT designed bridge and Link Peace Street wants them to consider the ‘no bridge’ option. We feel that the upgrades to Capital Boulevard, outlined in the study document, only promote more speed and will continue keeping vehicles moving through the area rather than stopping at a destination. Peace Street is the northern border of downtown Raleigh but most people don’t see it that way as the built landscape is not meant for a downtown at all. It’s possible that an environment that balances pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles can promote development that is appropriate for downtown Raleigh and is a much better use of land.

With vehicles speeds kept the same and not increased, a walkable Peace Street will connect the neighborhoods rather than be an obstacle between them. In March, the Blount Street Commons project was asking the Raleigh City Council for a zoning change to allow for more density. At the same time, there is an apartment boom near Glenwood South. Both neighborhoods are so close yet feel much farther because of the uneasy walk down Peace Street in its current state.

It is a half mile walk from the Mellow Mushroom to Tyler’s Taproom yet so few people make that walk. In comparison, Fayetteville Street from one end to the other is a half mile. Peace Street may never have the towers and historic structures of Fayetteville Street but we think that we can atleast set up Peace Street for the same walkable experience. To have it, it starts with people and not vehicles.

The 2030 comprehensive plan specifies that this area is in the Core Business District category. It states:

This category applies to the Raleigh Central Business District, and is intended to enhance Downtown Raleigh as a vibrant mixed use urban center. The category recognizes the area’s role as the heart of the city, supporting a mix of high-intensity office, retail, housing, government, institutional, visitor-serving, cultural, and entertainment uses. Multiple zoning districts apply within the CBD, corresponding to the different character and vision for its various neighborhoods. The maximum residential density in this area would be 320 units per acre with densities tapering off towards edge areas adjacent to established residential neighborhoods, but not falling below 40 units per acre.

The Capital Boulevard study wants to widen lanes and help the flow of traffic. This does not fit with the description above and Link Peace Street feels that goes against the plan adopted just a few years ago.

How can we continue to do what we’ve been doing here in the corridor and expect different results?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

-Albert Einstein

We’re hoping to build support for the idea before the study is brought to the city council before the May 1st meeting.

NCSU Landscape Architects Show Off Vision For Capital Blvd on First Friday

First Friday is filled with tons of great events and things to see. Since we’ve been following the Capital Boulevard corridor study, there’s one event I wanted to highlight. Landscape architecture students from NC State will be showing off some of their designs for the Capital Blvd corridor at the Urban Design Center tomorrow starting at 6pm.

Currently, the corridor study is pretty wide open so new ideas are welcome. I’m hoping to see designs for the corridor that balances the people aspects, sidewalks, parks, with the need for transit, mainly cars, which is what currently dominates there.

Urban Design Center
133 Fayetteville Street
6pm

Capital Boulevard Corridor Study Open House On September 29, 2011

From my e-mail directly to you, take note of this upcoming meeting on the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study.

Where: Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in the Meymandi Concert Hall and Lobby
When: September 29, 2011, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Related link:
Capital Blvd Corridor Study via RaleighNC.gov

Raleigh residents are encouraged to attend the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study open house and public comment opportunity on September 29 at Meymandi Concert Hall. The open house is a chance for residents to hear plans and options for one of Raleigh’s main thoroughfares.

The corridor study will look at options regarding the roadway, transit and high speed rail, bicycle and pedestrian needs, greenways, stream restoration, and economic development along Capital Boulevard. Representatives from the North Carolina Department of Transportation will be on hand to discuss the replacements of the Peace Street and Wade Avenue bridges. Residents are invited to make comments and ask questions about the corridor plan.

The meeting will be an open house format held in collaboration with NCDOT. Displays will include:

  • The City: vision options for the corridor including roadways; transit and high-speed rail; bicycle/pedestrian; greenway and stream restoration; and economic development
  • NCDOT: bridge replacement plans at Peace Street and Wade Avenue for public comment
  • Triangle Transit: rail alternatives under recent discussion
  • Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) plans under development