The fourth part of my Connecting Downtown Raleigh series takes a look at access to and from the North.
Catch up with the other parts of the series here:
Part 1: Part 1
Part 2: Trails Over Rails
Part 3: South
There is one primary route in and out of Downtown Raleigh to the North. That being Capital Blvd. The three mile stretch of Capital Blvd from Peace Street to I-440 is a 45 MPH divided facility with some limited access characteristics. There are some parts that are near freeway standards, but also some stretches with curb cuts and stop lights. For example, there are full interchanges at Wade Ave, Wake Forest Rd, and I-440 but signals at Hodge Rd and Crabtree Blvd.
The land use is almost completely industrial and while there are developments taking shape in the surrounding areas, Capital Blvd itself has no plans. There are also no bike or pedestrian accommodations.
Volumes as estimated from NCDOT range from 55,000 North of Peace St, to 32,000 South of I-440.
My proposal would include converting Capital Blvd to expressway standards from Peace St to I-440, extend West St from it’s current terminus to Hodges St, extend Halifax St to Wake Forest Rd, construct a grid system on either side of Capital Blvd, and constructing a network of Greenways connecting Downtown Raleigh directly to the Iron Works District and Crabtree Creek Greenway.
Capital Blvd Improvements
The Capital Blvd improvements would include upgrading the existing interchanges, shoulders, and intersections to expressway standards. While the real benefits will be realized by the new connections detailed below, doing this would increase safety and decrease confusion of the hybrid model it currently is today. While it is technically an upgrade, no widening would be involved and in a lot of cases, the roadway width would decrease. As Downtown Raleigh rapidly grows, this would create a reliable route in and out of town while ensuring other routes do not become clogged. Explore the conceptual plans below.
Exits would be provided at Wade Ave, Wake Forest Rd, and Hodges St / Six Forks Rd Extension.
Extending West Street from it’s current terminus up to Hodges Street would open up a world of opportunity for this stretch North of Raleigh.
Currently West St ends near Wade Ave leaving drivers to only use Capital Blvd. As mentioned earlier, this has stymied development in the area since Capital Blvd is a six lane, 45 MPH facility.
Extending West St just West of Capital Blvd as a two lane facility with buffered bike lanes would allow for current underused industrial facilities to be repurposed as mixed use hubs. This will create a seamless connection between Midtown, the Iron Works District and the North end of Downtown Raleigh that isn’t feasible with Capital Blvd.
Just North of Wake Forest Rd, Capital Blvd currently splits directionally. Pushing the alignment to both directions being near the current NB direction opens up several blocks worth of prime development space along the new West St.
Halifax Street currently ends as it approaches the rail yard. Extending it over the rail yard and then parallel to Capital Blvd to Wake Forest Rd would achieve similar benefits as the West St extension.
To further connect and create neighborhoods that are currently cut off by Capital Blvd, I’m proposing three new connections over Capital Blvd between West and Halifax Streets.
The Fairview Road extension would eliminate the current ramp to and from Capital Blvd, which is a desire by the neighborhood. It would also connect it to the Mordecai district via Halifax Street Extension. Vehicles still wishing to access Capital Blvd can do so using Wade Ave or it’s extension.
The Blount Street and Gavin Street extension continues the theme of connecting the two neighborhoods while still preventing access directly to and from Capital Blvd.
The Automotive Way Extension serves as a frontage road on the East side of Capital Blvd North of Wake Forest Road again providing opportunity to transform a sleepy industrial corridor.
The Whitaker Mill Road Extension services a booming development area, connecting it directly to Capital Blvd through the West Street and Automotive Way Extensions making the area feel more connected to the grid.
The Six Forks Road / Crabtree Blvd Extension provides a direct connection between Midtown and Wake Med. Doing so transforms a series of road stubs into a cohesive corridor and opens up a whole new level of connectivity in this quadrant of town.
My proposal would construct a Greenway along Pigeon Branch Creek from future Deveraux Meadows Park in Downtown to Crabtree Creek.
For a more direct connection to the Iron Works District an additional Greenway should be constructed along West Street North of Wake Forest Road and along Whitaker Mill Road.
The addition of these Greenways would create a comprehensive off road network getting in and out of Downtown Raleigh. When paired with the Atlantic Ave bike lanes and Crabtree Creek Greenway, Downtown is connected with Midtown, points West and points East creating a complete network.
I believe connectivity is the one thing holding Raleigh back currently. Creating cities that are cohesive, connected, and accessible for all is my goal.
This plan would go a long way in achieving those three goals. It stitches neighborhoods together while also allowing for more dense in-town development on what is currently underused land, create a dedicated and safe bike network in and out of Downtown, all while creating a safer, more reliable Capital Blvd.