South Street at South Saunders Street
The two-way conversion of South and Lenoir Streets have begun. You could loosely call this a phase 2 project as parts of Lenoir and South were converted to two-way years ago when the Raleigh Convention Center opened. Now, the city is finishing the conversion so that the streets operate as two-way from end-to-end.
For all the details, jump over to the Lenoir & South Street Two-Way Conversion project page on the city’s website.
Going west to east, South Street is two-way in Boylan Heights but flips to one-way (east bound) at South Saunders. Shown in the photo above, utility work is taking place and throughout the year the street in this area will contain bike lanes, landscaped medians, and travel lanes going in both directions (of course) up to Dawson. At Dawson is where South flips back to two-way.
Along South through downtown, the street flips back to one-way (east bound) at Wilmington Street. There will be one travel lane in each direction from here all the way to East Street. The traffic light at Bloodworth Street will be removed and replaced with a four-way stop.
Lenoir Street looks less complicated. No conversion work is needed on the west side of downtown and the work begins at Wilmington Street. The east bound one-way street between Wilmington and East will be converted to one-lane in each direction. The traffic lights at both East and Bloodworth will be replaced with four-way stops.
As someone who travels in this area by car and bicycle, this conversion is very much welcomed. It’ll also be a nice alternative when Fayetteville Street is completely closed during event season.
It is a Raleigh tradition to drive downtown and lose your way at least once in your lifetime. I still remember a drive downtown many years ago. I was trying to find the Lincoln Theatre, not knowing that east and west Cabarrus Streets do not actually join. When I did realize this, I still had trouble getting over to the west side when on the east. I mean whose great idea was it to build One and Two Hannover where a street should be? I was just a youngling back then and now know the downtown Raleigh streets.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about downtown is how hard it is to navigate and find your way around. I honestly have not been to any city, of significant size, where the downtown area was ‘easy’ to navigate so this complaint does not quite make as much noise too me. However, downtown is changing and is trying to improve this, which is good for any visitor to the area. The plan is to change many one-way streets to a two-way design. We have already seen this occur with Martin and Hargett St. in 2006. Later this year, Lenoir and South Street will be converted as well.
The initiative for this change is outlined on the city’s Livable Streets website:
One-way pairs were at one time an innovative way to increase the traffic-carrying capacity of dense urban streets, but in the age of ring highways and major thoroughfare corridors, the need for traffic capacity on secondary downtown streets is not as great as in the mid-20th Century when most of these one-way pairs were implemented. One-way systems also increase traffic speed at the expense of pedestrian safety and also make it more difficult for the first-time visitor to navigate. Several pairs of streets are under consideration for return to two-way travel, and each will be re-designed as this change is implemented to maximize the efficiency of the street while emphasizing the comfort and convenience of the pedestrian.
Once these changes have taken place, Salisbury St. opens back up, and Fayetteville St. is finished up to Lenoir, we will have a solid street network for visitors to roam around.
I’d also like to point out a little flaw within our streets that I do not see any plans for change. What is up with the one-way to two-way to one-way fiasco on Morgan St.? It is dominantly one-way with a five block two-way stretch between St. Mary’s and Dawson St. Does anyone know how this came to be?