Wake officials explain plan to tackle enormous growth

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Thursday, November 2, 2017
Wake County growth
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Wake County is growing by an average of 68 people per day

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Josh Miller moved to Wake County a couple of months ago from Texas. He spent Thursday morning at the DMV getting his paperwork together for a new license. He had lived in this area before and decided to come back. As he is settling into a new life in Wake, he's recruiting other family members to join him in the area.

"Absolutely, I think that's what everyone's doing. I think that's why North Carolina is growing and Raleigh especially," he said.

Wake County is growing by an average of 68 people per day and officials are working to catch up with the population boom and the area's economic growth.

"So many counties in North Carolina are shrinking in population. We're the second fastest growing county in America today," said Wake County Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson. "We're making the lives of our citizens even better by planning today for what going to happen tomorrow."

The county is working on a 20-year plan that includes finding water partnerships and more affordable housing.

"We have a need for 50,000 affordable housing units today," said Hutchinson.

There's pressure too on schools. An average of two kindergarten classes are born each day, and the Wake County School District is also strategizing with its own 20-year plan.

Roads are also becoming more congested. According to the latest state numbers, more than 11 billion miles were clocked by drivers on Wake roads in 2016.

Traffic is up on Wade Avenue. Just past the Beltline, daily traffic is up fifty percent in the last 15 years.

Regional Transportation Alliance Executive Director Joe Milazzo says there are several long-term projects on tap to ease congestion.

"Look at Capital Boulevard going to Wake Forest, that's a very challenging commute. From 540 North, every one of those stop lights is going to go away. That road will be converted to a freeway," said Milazzo. "US-70, from 540 back over to Durham, that road will be converted to a freeway. So all those stop lights on these major roads and a lot of them will go away, and that will help out."

The DOT is holding a public forum to discuss the many Raleigh improvement projects being considered. The meeting will take place November 16 at the McKimmon Center.