Batchelor argues that roundabouts are a good way for merging and moving vehicles through intersections, but they are not a pedestrian-friendly solution for the problematic intersections on Hillsborough Street. He says the roundabouts will not be able to accommodate the cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers who use the street.
“This dangerous and potentially lethal concept for a problematic intersection on Hillsborough Street needs to be re-examined by the City of Raleigh,” Batchelor writes. “Trendy as roundabouts may be in current planning circles, a far simpler and cost-effective solution was proposed more than 25 years ago: Extend Pullen Road straight through the intersection and connect directly to Oberlin Road.”
Re-examining the roundabouts is no longer an option, as on Tuesday the City Council voted to spend about $9.9 million to construct the first phase of the project. Councilmen Philip Isley and Rodger Koopman were the only two who voted against the funding. Koopman argued that because of the economy it was the wrong time to go ahead with the project, while Isley has been loudly opposed to the roundabouts on Hillsborough since they were first proposed.
Only time will tell whether Batchelor is right about the roundabouts and Hillsborough Street. If he is, it will be a monumental embarrassment for the city. The Hillsborough project has been discussed and debated for years, and if it leaves drivers baffled about how to navigate the street it will have the exact opposite effect that officials intended.
Who knows, may the city will provide roundabout driving training for all residents with driver’s licenses. Of course, that would require the creation create of a roundabout mascot who can hang out with Neusie and Rainy.
The City Council also voted on Tuesday to spend $350,000 extending the Hillsborough streetscape project to a section of Oberlin Road in front of the Players’ Retreat sports bar, and $20,000 installing LED lights and a plug-in station for hybrid-electric vehicles. The $350,000 expenditure will make streetscape improvements to an area just down the road from the driveway of at-large Councilman Russ Stephenson's home.
Stephenson said after the meeting that he checked with the city attorney during the meeting about whether he needed to recuse himself from the vote and was told no.