Raleigh council approves wish list of state road projects

ccampbell@newsobserver.comNovember 20, 2013 

— City leaders on Tuesday updated their wish list for state road projects in and around Raleigh, and they added seven new road improvements and extensions to the list as traffic issues grow.

Many of the projects – such as the final section of the Interstate 540 loop, the widening of the Beltline in Southwest Raleigh and the freeway conversion of U.S. 1 to Wake Forest – have been on the drawing board for years.

Seven new additions to the list aim to address population growth on the city’s outskirts. Here’s what’s being proposed, in order of priority:

•  A backdoor to Crabtree Valley Mall: Raleigh is pushing for a $40 million fix to the frequent backups on Glenwood Avenue near the mall. Leaders want to widen Crabtree Valley Avenue, which runs behind the mall, to four lanes, as well as build a direct connection to the Beltline and Creedmoor Road.

•  Extending T.W. Alexander Drive: One of the main roads through Research Triangle Park, T.W. Alexander could be extended east as a four-lane connector to Leesville Road at a cost of $16 million.

•  Widening I-540 with toll lanes: The northern expressway around Raleigh, from Interstate 40 to U.S. 64 in Knightdale, is slated to get two extra lanes. The catch: The $108 million project would likely be paid for by tolling the new lanes.

•  Widening Old Wake Forest Road from Capital Boulevard south to Litchford Road: The $13 million project to widen this section to four lanes is currently in Raleigh’s recently approved transportation bond package. But transportation planning manager Eric Lamb said it could be a good candidate for state funding – freeing up city bond dollars for other projects.

•  Widening Falls of Neuse Road: The northern reaches of this road just got an upgrade, but the proposed $16 million widening would make it a six-lane road from I-540 north to Durant Road.

•  Widening the Wade Avenue freeway: A $34 million upgrade is proposed for the freeway section of Wade between I-440 and I-40, adding one lane in each direction.

•  A new connector for Northwest Raleigh: The final item on Raleigh’s wish list is a new four-lane connector road between Westgate Road and Leesville Road. No cost estimate is available yet.

The requests will go through the N.C. Department of Transportation’s new prioritization process; road projects already set for construction in the next few years aren’t on the list because they’ve been considered under the old formula.

Raleigh won’t be asking the state for much help on its bicycle and pedestrian projects. Many of the city’s efforts won’t qualify and therefore aren’t on the wish list.

“The legislature was very direct in terms of stripping funding from bicycle and pedestrian projects,” Lamb said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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