City of Raleigh to Resurface, Add Bike Lanes to Blount, Person and Wake Forest roads

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City of Raleigh to Resurface, Add Bike Lanes to Blount, Person and Wake Forest roads

Image of Wake Forest Road near Downtown Raleigh

Image of Wake Forest Road near Downtown Raleigh

Zachary Gaiters

Image of Wake Forest Road near Downtown Raleigh

Zachary Gaiters

Zachary Gaiters

Image of Wake Forest Road near Downtown Raleigh

Zachary Gaiters, Staff Writer

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Students and faculty who use Wake Forest Road as part of their commute to William Peace University are getting used to a new traffic pattern. The city of Raleigh is in the process of resurfacing Wake Forest as part of the first phase of a road improvement project.

The project, known as the Blount Street Person Street Corridor Improvement project, will add bike lanes along Blount Street, Person Street, and Wake Forest Road in addition to resurfacing the roadways, improving pedestrian crossings, upgrading curb ramps, and removing unnecessary travel lanes.

According to the city’s website, the project was approved by the city council in 2013 and resolves to maintain most existing on-street parking. Among the areas that will not lose parking in light of the project includes the stretch of Blount Street that runs along the eastern side of WPU’s campus. Despite this, students would still need to look elsewhere to park their vehicles once pavement work shifts to Blount Street.

“Having a place to park is top priority for me,” says Peace senior Andrew Vernon. “Depending on the day, it takes me about 10 minutes to find a parking spot.”

As the city would need to request that all vehicles be removed from the road in order to remove and replace asphalt as well as install pavement markings, an already strong battle for parking will become even stronger.

“Usually, it takes me 10 to 15 minutes to get here and sometimes the traffic is really heavy,” says Peace junior Endeja Carter regarding her commute to school.

For some students, however, their traffic woes are only beginning, as the bike lane proposed for Blount Street will mean narrower travel lanes. But during an era in which the city is adding more bike lanes to its roads, some students welcome the addition of more environmentally friendly transportation. 

“If we add more bike lanes, we can have transportation that’s not harmful to the environment and it won’t be as expensive for some,” says Vernon.

Other students, such as junior Dara Scott, believe bike lanes to be a way to improve safety throughout the state.

“I generally prefer bike lanes, especially here in North Carolina because I tend to be a nervous wreck when there’s someone biking on the shoulder,” says Scott.

In addition to the resurfacing work, Wake Forest Road was given what city planners refer to as a [road diet] converting it from a four-lane road to three lanes with a continuous left turn lane. Stephanie Dill, who manages Peace’s dining services, uses Wake Forest as part of her commute from North Raleigh.

“I like that there’s a dedicated turn lane, but I think it would be difficult to have [Wake Forest] as single lane, especially since it’s a major bus route,” says Dill.

While the changes to Wake Forest are welcome to some, others like Lori McClaren, executive director of the School of Professional Studies, have a different perspective.

“I hate bike lanes,” says McClaren. “I think they’re very unnecessary and only cause more problems for drivers.” Especially unhappy about the loss of travel lanes, McClaren expresses concern about the slower commute times and the increase of risky drivers.

With the added obstacle of other construction projects around the city, including the nearby replacement of the Capital Boulevard bridge across Peace Street, some students believe the resurfacing project is yet another nuisance. Despite the headaches, city leaders estimate that the project will be completed in December.

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