Raleigh downtown tunnel a step closer to reality

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The project would reconnect West Street between Cabarrus and Martin streets.

For years, the city of Raleigh has been looking at reconnecting a part of downtown near the Amtrak station. That tunnel project just moved a step closer to reality.

An environmental study for the West Street Extension Project was just completed, which means the city can apply for federal funding.

The project would reconnect West Street between Cabarrus and Martin Streets. The city said it's been looking to do this since the 1960s and it said it will need federal funding to move forward before breaking ground. The project is adjacent to the redevelopment of Union Station.

Several options were on the table including a bridge over West Street but ultimately a tunnel was chosen. The tunnel would accommodate cars, bikes and pedestrians.

"I just love Raleigh in general," said Anna Lynch, CEO of Lynch Mykins, a structural engineering firm downtown. "I love downtown. I ride my bike, I walk to work it it's nice out, sometimes I drive because I go to meetings-it depends on the weather."

Lynch moved her life to downtown to Boylan Heights eight years ago - where there is no sign development is slowing down.

Years ago, she commented on the idea to reconnect West Street. At the time, she thought the bridge was a better idea.

She supports idea in part "because there's all this construction going on in the warehouse district which is causing a lot of traffic issues so you don't want to go through this area. "Everyone is trying to redirect down Boylan-it's just a cluster."

The project, however, would do away with this train crossing on Cabarrus that Lynch uses every day.

"It is really just where do they want to put the money and how beneficial is it going to be in the end."

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