Downtown makeover causing traffic mess

RALEIGH A new community group wants everyone to know the businesses are still open and they need support now more than ever.

On Saturday, members of the group went from house to house near Hillsborough Street with stacks of coupons trying to drum up business.

"This is an effort to try to let the public know that while Hillsborough Street construction is underway, the businesses are open," said Nina Szlosberg, member of the Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation.

The lack of curb appeal to the shops and restaurants along the popular thoroughfare seems to be causing a lack of business too.

"These businesses on Hillsborough Street are getting hit three ways," Szlosberg said. "The students are gone for the summer, it's a terrible economic time for everyone, and then they've got construction going on top of that."

But leaders said the plan is that the construction is exactly what will make Hillsborough Street a destination spot in the future.

"The ultimate goal is to have Hillsborough Street be a great front door to NC State, a pedestrian area, one lane of traffic each way, lots of parking, easy to cross, and make it really very attractive," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The $9.9 million project should also make the street less congested.

Construction began about three months ago and is expected to be completed by August of next year.

Members of the Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation said they hope they'll be able to with stand the next year. In the meantime, they'll be working to give nearby residents an incentive.

"Hillsborough Street's suffered over the years and now we're making this huge city investment and we've got to keep the businesses healthy while that's underway," Szlosberg said.

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