Battle ensues over widening Falls of Neuse

December 2, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Everyone seems to agree that something needs to be done about Falls of Neuse Road, but residents who live along it say widening to four lanes is enough."Believe you me, having lived on that street and having lived in the area, the thing we need is a right size road and we need it now," offered Sam Rabon who lives along the road.

In a vote Tuesday evening, City Council voted to go along, and pursue a four-lane road with a center turn lane instead of the proposed six-lane highway.

The decision came after a coalition of homeowner's associations with more than 60 residents showed up to voice their concerns about the widening project.

"If you build a highway the people will try to use it and will jam it," said one resident.

Funding for the project will come from a mix of federal and city money. The plan is to widen the road from just south of Raven Ridge Road and then north. The construction would follow the existing road to Lowery Farms Road, and then a new bridge would cross the Neuse River and link up with New Falls of Neuse Road in Wakefield.

Construction on the road realignment was to start this spring, but federal officials have to sign off on design changes. That's a frustration for city leaders who wondered aloud why the six lane plan has gone forward despite so much opposition.

"The whole question of putting the cart before the horse and getting to this point. Citizens at four different meetings, they're always saying it should be four, but the design stayed at six," said City Councilman Russ Stephenson.

Federal rules in order to qualify for federal money, the city must plan for future use. Studies show the road will have about 45,000 cars a day on it by 2035 - and thus the six-lane plan. City planners say if the city drops the six-lane plan, there's a chance the money will disappear.

Residents say if Falls of Neuse can't be widened, they'd rather the city focused on nearby U.S. 1, which is already heavily lined with commercial development.

"There's a road called Capital Boulevard that is literally parallel to what we're talking about. Capital Boulevard is the perfect road to have six-lanes," offered Rabon.


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