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Appendix: Case Study Profiles

13. Raleigh, North Carolina - Hillsborough Street Improvement Project

Funding Sources and Amounts: Original Budget: $3 million

(Local funding authorized by Raleigh voters in the 2005 Transportation Bond Referendum)

Years: 2009–present

With Additional Features: $9.92 million (Local funding from city of Raleigh awarded for a contract with Hamlett and Associates, Inc. will construct Phase I improvements)

Agencies/Organizations Involved: Hillsborough Street Partnership; local businesses; community residents are involved through their neighborhood community action committees or neighborhood associations; North Carolina State University stu- dents are involved through the Student Government's Hillsborough Street Commission; and local govern- ment officials.

Geographic Area: The complete project will affect Hillsborough Street from the cross-sections of Method Road to West Morgan Street.

Problem to Be Addressed

Hillsborough was dealing with safety concerns and a need for economic revitalization - both of which could be addressed through redevelopment of the Hillsborough Street Area.39

Objectives of Project

To achieve the goals of alleviating safety concerns and spurring economic revitalization and community use of the Hillsborough Street area, the Hillsborough Street Improvement Project focused on using "slower traffic speeds, smarter crosswalks, enhanced light- ing, additional on-street parking, and re-invented streetscape elements," taking a road diet approach.40

Summary of Project

"At the heart of the plan is changing the street itself from a four lane, congested street, to a two-lane avenue moving vehicular and pedestrian traffic more safely and efficiently. Roundabouts are used to create attractive gateways and vistas, minimize speeds, reduce the problem of left turns (where most traffic accidents occur), simplify pedestrian crossings, and keep traffic flowing gently along the street. A number of other design features complement the planned regional rail stop on NC State's campus and provide
a foundation for the redevelopment of the area."41

"Hillsborough Street will be converted to a two- lane section with a median from Gardner Street to Oberlin Road. A two-lane roundabout will be added at Hillsborough Street/Pullen Road and a single-lane roundabout will be added at Oberlin Road/Extended Pullen Road…The project will make on-street
parking available 24-hours a day on both sides of the street, adding more than 100 parking spaces to the 77 on-street spaces currently permitted."42

Type of Funding Used for Project / Plan

Population Served and Modes Served

City of Raleigh residents, as well as commuters from neighboring communities; arterial drivers, pedestri- ans, bicyclists, and transit riders.

Project Details 43


The complete project will affect Hillsborough Street from the cross-sections of Method Road to West Morgan Street. Phase I of the project extends from Gardner Street to Oberlin Road.44 "Today, Hillsborough Street remains the only thoroughfare functioning in its original uninterrupted design outward from the Capitol. Hillsborough Street serves as a significant community corridor bordering a broad range of business, University, and neighbor- hood uses. Most know Hillsborough Street as a front door to Saint Mary's, North Carolina State University, and Meredith College."45

"The Hillsborough Street Municipal Service District (MSD) will run east-to-west along the street from St. Mary's School to Meredith College. The MSD's southern boundary will follow the railroad right-of- way that crosses the N.C. State University campus. The northern boundary is generally includes areas one block north of Hillsborough Street. The MSD contains 123 acres of land and more than 2 million square feet of built space. There are approximately 210 businesses in the Hillsborough Street MSD."46

Hillsborough Street is a community connector; it runs from the Capitol Building in Raleigh's down- town to the State Fairgrounds and the surrounding historic neighborhoods. It also serves as a link between community residents and light rail transit service. As a result of being widely used but with very little focus on pedestrian accessibility, it was listed in 2007 as the "most dangerous state roadway for pedestrians."47

Street improvements will include the following:48 (see map below for reference)

The Hillsborough Street Partnership is working effectively to catalyze both public and private invest- ment within the area, and formation of a business improvement district (BID) has helped formalize and further enhance these and other advocacy-related initiatives.

Strategy Details

The specific geographic area of the project was suggested "because it could potentially provide the resources needed to improve the perceptions of cleanliness and safety, conduct on-going public realm maintenance, and enhance economic development efforts for the area through coordinated marketing and tenant recruitment."49

Another benefit of the project was its ability to "speak for the street" by providing a unified voice for merchants and property owners. While the project was being developed, the surrounding com- munity's focus for Hillsborough Street was directed toward transforming the area into a "great street and public realm," enhancing the street's retail appeal and improving vehicular and pedestrian safety.

In addition to the street improvements, on July 15, 2008, the Raleigh City Council voted unanimously to establish a Municipal Service District (MSD), or BID, for Hillsborough Street. The objective of the MSD is to help revitalize areas along Hillsborough Street.

Livability Principles Promoted by Project

Promotion Livability Principles
F Increase transportation choices
  Promote affordable housing
F Enhance economic competitiveness
F Support existing communities
  Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment
F Value communities and neighborhoods

P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Support


  • How can the community be effectively engaged throughout the length of the project development and construction process? Project timelines are lengthy and it can be difficult to generate continued support.
  • Arriving at a consensus between those involved as to exactly what improvements would be included in the project.
  • Creating enough parking spaces for residents.


  • Integrated improvement approach that includes economic development, public transit improve- ments, a new recycling program, energy conservation, improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and use of renewable energy.
  • Regular public forums are held to gather suggestions on community improvements and inform residents of planned efforts.
  • The project was initiated early on by community residents rather than city officials.
  • A community partnership was created to help facilitate unified involvement and continued partici- pation from all stakeholders.

"The objective was not necessarily to build round- abouts, but to improve pedestrian safety and enhance the pedestrian character of the corridor. There are far too many crashes now that involve a pedestrian and a vehicle. A 1999 study team recommended nar- rowing Hillsborough Street to one travel lane in each direction instead of the two currently there. Experts told them the traffic would back up at every signal ized intersection so the study team suggested that the traffic signals be removed. Fearing bottlenecks would be created every time someone tried to turn left, the study team drew from their experience in other states where roundabouts are a safe, attractive alternative to signalized intersections."50

Perspectives on Implementing the Project and Its Impacts

Project Status

As of early 2010, the status of the project is as follows:
In late December 2009, "Hamlett's construc- tion crews started work on the island for the Hillsborough/Pullen roundabout."51
Four-foot bike lanes along Hillsborough Street are operational as of January 2010.

Applicability of Lessons Learned to Other Projects or Challenges

Roles of MPOs / DOTs and Policy / Plan Outcomes

Neither the local MPO, the Capital Area MPO, nor the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) was involved in planning or funding the Hillsborough Street project. Recent discussions regarding adding bike lanes to Hillsborough Street, however, could necessitate NCDOT's involvement. The City Council's Public Works Committee has recommended the city of Raleigh ask NCDOT to consider installing bicycle lanes along Hillsborough Street from Enterprise Street to Gardner Street. Because Hillsborough Street is a State-maintained road, NCDOT would need to approve changes in road striping for the bicycle lanes.

For More Information

Sources and Other Resources:





43 Cited from multiple sources, including




47 Schlosberg, Nina. Raleigh, North Carolina - Hillsborough Street. Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.





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