Pic of the Week

Starting this week, the city is having protected bike lanes installed on West and Harrington Streets as part of the Downtown North-South Greenway Connector. This will be downtown’s first protected bike lane which connects the warehouse district to Smoky Hollow. You can already see parts of it along West, shown above.

Along West Street, bicycle traffic can start from Union Station and head toward Smoky Hollow in the protected lane until North Street. If heading the other way around, you can get back to the warehouse district riding down Harrington Street.

The placement of the lanes is also nice as there are several Citrix Cycle stations along them including Union Station, across from Morgan Street Food Hall, Hillsborough Street, and at Jones Street.

This is excellent to see as it is a foundational route that one day could connect to a greenway heading north along a Devereux Meadows park in north downtown and to a greenway to Dix Park which is to the south. The lanes should be 100% by October.

Revisiting The Downtown Plan’s Glenwood Green Project Area

View from the upper floors of the West at North Tower. Photo credit Robert Winchester

View looking north from the upper floors of the West at North Tower. Photo credit Robert Winchester.

There has been a lot to follow around the Smokey Hollow area of Glenwood South. The reader-submitted photo above shows another view of all the demolition that has taken place. The “Glenwood Green” area has basically been wiped clean and will be rebuilt over the coming years.

The term Glenwood Green comes from the 2015 downtown Raleigh plan and I thought this a good time to see if the planned developments are in line with what was envisioned for the area.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Peace (formerly Smokey Hollow) – 400 unit residential tower with ground-floor retail at the corner of Peace and West Street. A Publix grocery store has been announced so far.
  • Directly to the south, the same developers have bought land for a phase 2 mixed-use project.
  • Smokey Hollow. Courtesy of Cline Design.

    Latest rendering of the development for Peace and West

    By the way, the name of the development may have changed from Smokey Hollow to Peace but this blog will always recognize this area and basically any new developments going forward as part of Smokey Hollow.

    Let’s map it all. I like this one from Raleigh DLA.

    Map of planned developments in Smokey Hollow

    Glenwood Green Vision

    The Glenwood Green vision as part of the 2015 downtown plan so far is coming along. Granted, not much “green” has been planned in this area but once the Capital Boulevard bridge project (the square loop) is finished in 2019, the city can deliver that green with a planned Devereux Meadows Park north of Peace Street.

    Here’s the two-page overview of the Glenwood Green vision.
    Glenwood Green project area - 2015 Downtown Plan

    Click for larger

    The vision overview behind Glenwood Green wants Harrington Street to be a new “main street” for the area. This should be where the majority of retail is located and the planning folks have shown us this in their latest update of retails streets in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

    Harrington Street has the opportunity to be the gateway from the Devereux Meadows Park through Smokey Hollow and into the Warehouse District.

    Notice that Kane Realty has projects at both ends of this street. (All the Smokey Hollow work + The Dillon) Not a coincidence I’m thinking here.

    Public Space and Greenway Connections

    What still isn’t being talked about is the idea of a central plaza in Smokey Hollow to really give this area a sense of place. In addition, a greenway or urban cycle track connecting parts north and south would run through this area with this public space being the central hub.

    The vision in the downtown plan proposes a civic building and plaza but something else could work to make it into a destination. A park could also serve as a meeting place and destination.

    When you add up the plans for a greenway through Devereux Meadows, the city experimenting with a cycle-track along West Street, and connectivity from the Warehouse District to Dix Park, you can really see how important Smokey Hollow is to north/south connectivity through downtown Raleigh.

    If you look at the latest map of the Raleigh Greenway system, there’s a core loop around downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. We still don’t have that middle section that cuts through it. The Glenwood Green vision supports this major connection.

    Raleigh Greenway system, January 2018

    Raleigh Greenway system, January 2018. Click for larger

    A proposed route from Smokey Hollow to the north towards the current greenway exists. A lot of it would run through Devereux Meadows alongside Capital Boulevard. This was talked about as part of the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study, an effort that took place around 2011. Here’s a map of the proposed greenway route connecting areas north of downtown.

    Right now, there hasn’t been talk of incorporating that civic space or greenway into Smokey Hollow. Those interested in creating a vibrant area here should keep an eye out because as all this development starts, the opportunities for the connections decrease.

    If all the land is dedicated to buildings then the idea of a public plaza becomes significantly harder to plan for. The greenway connection may also turn into a glorified sidewalk path rather than something unique.

    As plans form, I look to the city to work with developers to get this built and see the vision behind Glenwood Green come to full form.

Municipography, Capital Boulevard Bridges

Capital Boulevard going over Peace Street

Capital Boulevard going over Peace Street

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.

During last week’s city council meeting, there was a presentation with the latest updates on the bridge replacement projects that are going to take place on Capital Boulevard. This is a topic that’s been covered here on the blog for almost five years and we’re now under a year until construction starts.

If you need to play catch up, I recommend reading about the planned ‘square loop’ design here:

In addition to the Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street being replaced, Wade Avenue at Capital is also being replaced.

If the video does not show for you, click here.

Eric Lamb, Transportation Planning Manager for the city, gave a brief overview of the latest updates of the project. Here are some notes I took:

  • The project will remove the Jersey barriers and glare screens going down the middle of Capital and a landscaped median will be put in.
  • Seeing as how this is an NCDOT/City of Raleigh collaboration project, NCDOT will cover base costs with Raleigh covering enhancements like aesthetics, lights, etc.
  • The city’s share for the project is now estimated to be between $12 and $13 million.
  • During construction, one northbound lane on Capital will be closed for about two years.
  • At some times, Capital will be closed entirely but crews will focus on nights and weekend closings.
  • The official detour will be to use Blount Street and Person Street/Wake Forest Road.
  • The new bridges will have an art deco design maintaining a theme with nearby railraod bridges.

Rendering of the bridge going over Peace Street without columns

Rendering of the bridge going over Peace Street without columns

Rendering of the bridge going over Peace Street with columns

Rendering of the bridge going over Peace Street with columns. Click for larger.

The major enhancements of each bridge primarily revolve around adding either lights or decorative columns or both. As you can see in the rendering, the columns could have public art on top of them of some sort. Only a concept is shown in the rendering not the final art piece.

Of course, the more you add, the higher the cost becomes. City staff broke it down into four available options.

  • Option 1: Full enhancements to both bridges: +$2.4 million
  • Option 2: No treatments at Wade, full enhancements at Peace: +$1.16 million
  • Option 3: Enhance both bridges, including lights but no columns: +$1.61 million
  • Option 4: Enhance both bridges without columns or lights: +$1.21 million

Full breakdown of costs for Peace Street.

  • With columns and lights: +$1.25 million
  • With lights: +$860,000
  • Without lights: +$660,000

Full breakdown of costs for Wade Avenue.

  • With columns and lights: +$1.16 million
  • With lights: +$748,000
  • Without lights: +$548,000

Those figures make it seem like lights are a $200,000 cost per bridge. The columns come in around $400,000 per bridge.

Option 3 seemed to be, according to the light conversation, the one councilors preferred but no decisions were made at this time. There is still more work to be done to prepare an agreement with NCDOT and when those details are more solid, there will be a followup presentation. That will probably take place in a few months.

Construction will first start at Wade in July 2016 with Peace Street seeing work in July 2017. Everything should wrap up during the Summer of 2019.

On a slightly related note, I haven’t covered the Wade Avenue bridge much but I did notice this one little jewel in the renderings. Take a look at the Wade Avenue bridge design below. The right-most portion shows a greenway trail going underneath.

Rendering of the Wade Avenue bridge with columns

Rendering of the Wade Avenue bridge with columns. Click for larger.

We know that the city wants to get a greenway to go along Capital and the Pigeon House Branch Creek which is mostly buried. In the future, the creek may be opened up and we all can walk or bike along it starting from a park that sits just north of Peace Street between Capital and West Street.

Rendering of the Wade Avenue bridge with columns

The rendering suggests that there are plans to keep a connection open here at the bridge for such a future project. Good stuff!

Raleigh Greenway Access From Downtown, Current and Future

Chavis Way, entrance to the greenway off the 500 block of East Martin Street.

I just did some online searching for information regarding the Raleigh Greenway system. It’s pretty sad that there isn’t an informative, well designed page dedicated to educating people on the expansive network of trails that go all over Raleigh. If you know of one, PLEASE share it.

The city’s website has only a small blurb about it here and you can download pdf maps of the parks and trails too. (links below) The maps are not up to date and the enormous file is cumbersome to navigate without a gigantic, high-resolution monitor.

Capital Area Greenway System Map (via raleighnc.gov)

Park And Greenway System Map (via raleighnc.gov)

The best resource out there is a real map of the network which you should be able to pick up at any bike shop around town. The adventurous will learn by just jumping onto the greenways themselves and picking them up as you go.

How does Downtown Raleigh fit into this network of trails? Looking at a portion of the map below, we get…. (click for a larger view)

Great Connections

The southern portion of downtown, highlighted in purple in the center, has pretty good access to the greenway trails running along southern Raleigh. If you work your way into Boylan Heights, West of downtown, you can get to the trails that run along Western Blvd very easily, marked by #34 on the map. This is a perfect way to get to Centennial Campus and the rest of NC State University without battling car traffic.

Trail #7 begins on Martin Street to the east of downtown. This trail will easily get you to many different parts of southeast Raleigh. It is possible to use this trail to get to the NC State Farmer’s Market while heading east weaves through secluded woods and wetlands.

But what about going north?

The long trail that runs along the northern arc just inside I-440 is a beautiful path to ride or walk on. I’ve ridden on it many times from one end all the way to Shelley Lake and back. I highly recommend getting out there and seeing it. Here’s the trail: (click for larger)

This is the trail to get to if you want to ride out to North Raleigh. I went shopping once at Crabtree Mall, getting there by bike on the greenways. Also, North Hills is a quick detour on Lassiter Mills Road but I’ve never tried it.

Conversely to the southern trails of Raleigh, the northern trails are harder to get to and is a little intimidating to the average rider. That may change in the future as a few ideas are being thrown around to run a greenway right through the middle of downtown.

Downtown trails for more connectivity

Right now, there are two developments that Raleigh Connoisseurs like yourselves should be aware of; the South West Street extension study and the Capital Blvd corridor study. We will get into the specifics of those topics, especially the West Street extension because I haven’t mentioned it here on RalCon as of today, at a later date but for right now let’s look at where the word ‘Greenway’ comes into play here.

Prerequisite Reading: Union Station – West Street Extension Alternatives.pdf (via raleighnc.gov)

In short, this document has some great details on how planners are thinking about having West Street, which currently dead ends at the railroad tracks after crossing Martin Street, connect to W. Cabarrus Street to support the future Union Station. A planned greenway is drawn up, running along West Street and ending at the current trail near Lake Wheeler and South Saunders Street. Picture below.

This portion will most likely be much more urban then the other trails around the city and the documents suggests that the greenway will be implemented with wider, multi-use sidewalks.

The Capital Blvd corridor study has talks of a possible greenway as part of the new additions to that area. Jim Belt of the Raleigh DLA wrote up a great review of the recent workshop and mentions that a greenway route is on the table. This map shows what a connection from the existing trail on Raleigh Blvd to downtown Raleigh could look like. The trail ends near the intersection of West and Peace Street but hopefully can be shot straight down West Street and into Union Station.

Putting the pieces together

If you add a greenway trail along the Capital Blvd corridor and another along the West Street extension, we now have penetrated downtown Raleigh with a trail and the rest of the network is easily accessible in all directions. Running it right by Union Station is a huge plus for the future of alternative transit around Raleigh as well.

Related Links:

Capital Blvd Corridor Study: RaleighNC.gov