Role offers roundabouts, sidewalks for Lake Wheeler Rd.

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Lake Wheeler Road between downtown Raleigh and the state farmers market is planned to be upgraded. The current City of Raleigh proposal will add a median, roundabouts, sidewalks and bike path to improve security and access to Dorothea Dix Park and planned developments in Fuller Heights. This photo was taken on May 23, 2022.

rwillett@newsobserver.com

The mile closest to downtown Raleigh Lake Wheeler Road hasn’t changed in decades. With the old Dorothea Dix Hospital campus on one side and the Fuller Heights neighborhood on the other, it’s still a two-lane road with no sidewalks, bike paths and even most of the sidewalks.

The city plans to change this. As the former psychiatric hospital campus becomes a city park, and developers move to building high-rises in Fuller Heights, Raleigh plans to overhaul the road that runs between them.

Recent projects would make the road on Lake Wheeler two-lane, but will add in the middle of the middle, sidewalks on both sides and a two-way bike path on the west side along the park. There will also be four roundabouts, including the first extended Triangle junction, where the two side streets meet Lake Wheeler at a distance of a couple of hundred feet from each other.

The city is looking for feedback from the population. He posted a summary of the designs and a link to an online survey at raleighnc.gov/projects/lake-wheeler-road-improvement-project. The poll will last until June 1.

Urban planners presented preliminary projects last autumn. Since then, they have decided to replace the current signal on Wheeler Lake and South Saunders Street with a roundabout. The intersection will be rebuilt using a corner of the park to make the roundabout work, said Brian Roth-Roffey, project manager.

At the other end, near the NC Farmer’s Market, an extended or peanut interchange would link Hood and Mercury streets at one intersection with Lake Wheeler. If everyone turns right at the roundabout, the design will make getting out of both side streets easier and safer, Roth-Roffey said.

“Rail junctions always provide better security,” he said. “There are much less severe accidents if you make turns to the right rather than trying to cross and drive to the left.”

Lake Wheeler Road is an elongated roundabout Concept.png
Conceptual view of the proposed elongated roundabout on Lake Wheeler Road on Hood and Mercury streets near Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. City of Raleigh

Another interchange will be built on Lake Wheeler and Hamel Drive, where developers plan to build a 7.5-acre apartment, office and commercial project worth $ 600 million. Traffic from this building will be used by Hammell to get to or from Wheeler Lake or South Saunders.

The fourth roundabout will take place on Lake Wheeler and Daladams Street. The street will continue to Dix Park, becoming the entrance to the Gipson Play Plaza, a planned playground this means the first stage of development of the 308-acre park. Construction of the site is expected to begin this year.

The city does not know when work will begin on Lake Wheeler Road, Roth-Roffey said. The Gipson Play Plaza is likely to be completed before a new entrance from Wheeler Lake is built, while visitors continue to use other entrances near Wheeler Lake and West Boulevard.

With the median, sidewalks and bike path, the new Lake Wheeler Road will require more space than the existing one. Most of the extra space will appear on the side of the road in the park, Roth-Roffey said, but the city may need easements in some front yards of houses on the Fuller Heights side of the road.

It is unclear how long these houses stand. The city’s land use plan calls for the construction of “high-density housing” along this section of Lake Wheeler, and the houses have already disappeared for the project around Hammell Drive.

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The city of Raleigh is considering building a roundabout at the intersection of South Saunders and Lake Wheeler Road, which can be seen here on the right. The city plans to overhaul Lake Wheeler to improve security and access to Dorothea Dix Park and planned developments in Fuller Heights. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

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Richard Stradling covers the transport for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and cars, as well as ferries, bicycles, scooters and just hiking. Also hospitals during a coronavirus outbreak. He has been a reporter or editor for 34 years, including the last 22 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.



Role offers roundabouts, sidewalks for Lake Wheeler Rd.

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