New Bern corridor of BRT project draws excitement, concerns as construction grows near

Jamiese Price Image
Saturday, July 15, 2023
New Bern corridor of BRT project draws excitement and concerns
The conversation around rezoning is ongoing among city leaders.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A two-story home on North Tarboro Street houses hopes and dreams for many.

Diana Powell runs her non-profit, Justice Served NC there.

"You talking about a brand new bus system coming in? And you know, it's fresh and new," Powell said.

Construction starts on the New Bern Corridor this fall and Powell's nonprofit is along the route.

"We don't mind the change. I mean, we want to keep up with time, because time brings changes," she said.

But some of the changes Powell said are concerning.

"The most vulnerable is going to be affected. And after they're pushed out, then it's going to come up to the next level of homeowners or renters that are in this area, it's going to affect them as well," Powell said.

As a community change agent fighting for the most vulnerable, Powell sees it as a form of gentrification.

"A lot of people are not gonna be able to hold on to their property. We've seen it, it's all over Raleigh," she said.

The push started back in 2016 when Wake County voters approved a plan for focused investment in public transportation.

That plan includes 20 miles of dedicated transit lanes with raised platforms and traffic signal priority. Quickly moving people around the city, the first phase gets you from Downtown Raleigh to Wake Med in a matter of minutes.

Earlier this week Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin celebrated the upcoming construction.

"When it's done, we're going to have a whole new way for people to get around. And this is also our busiest transit line. So it's going to really make the quality of life better for a lot of people," said Baldwin at the State of the City, County & Schools

Powell pushed back asking if it is because the city requested to rezone 744 properties, which equals about 726 acres along New Bern Avenue from Downtown to Hedingham Boulevard / Freedom Drive.

Those properties would fall under the city's transit overlay district, which would allow for increased building heights for future development, encourage denser housing, and promote walkability around the Bus Rapid Transit Project.

Great for some not for everyone.

"This building where we are is going to be affected as well so I got to get in there and understand what this rezoning all means," said Powell.

Construction on the New Bern Corridor should take about two years. The conversation around rezoning is ongoing among city leaders.