Everyone's favorite I-85 cross street, Hillandale Rd., is coming due for not one but two projects -- one that's drawn the support of many adjoining neighborhoods, and a second that may raise eyebrows at least among the local bike/ped community.
First up, the uncontroversially good news -- construction is set to begin next week on a sidewalk on the eastern side of Hillandale Rd., from Club Blvd. to just south of NC-147, the Durham Freeway. A sidewalk currently extends from where Fulton/Hillandale meets the freeway all the way to Duke Medical Center, but the lack of a connection from the highway to Club meant that residents in the Crest St. community had no easy or safe access to their neighborhood grocery, the Food Lion on W. Main, and that Old West Durham and Watts-Hillandale residents had no pedestrian connection to the region's largest employer.
John Schelp, who advocated for the project for several years in his stead within the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association, noted in an announcement to local listservs that much of the funding for the project comes from NCDOT (some of the rest comes from the 2005 sidewalk bonds.)
Note that there's no firm plans at this time to provide a sidewalk connection on the missing link of Hillandale, from Club Blvd. to I-85.
Speaking of that more northerly portion, the NCDOT has announced an open house and public hearing next Tuesday, Dec. 4 on a plan to widen Hillandale to "four lanes with a median" from I-85 to Carver St. As the press release from everyone's favorite state agency notes:
NCDOT proposes to widen Hillandale Road to a four-lane, median divided roadway with 12-foot inside lanes and 14-foot outside lanes, and will include curb and gutter, a 17.5-foot raised median, and 5-foot sidewalks. The purpose of the project is to relieve traffic congestion along Hillandale Road. Additional right of way and the relocation of homes and businesses will be required for this project.
The proposed widening has already stirred up a hornet's nest on the Durham bike/ped list, where complaints have ranged from concerns over the need for still more road-widening (especially in the wake of Guess Rd.'s recent four-laning) to concerns that the one-time Loehmann's Plaza (now to be renamed Croasdaile Commons) would be even harder to access. Given that Glenwood Development Co. of Huntersville is talking about updates to the shopping plaza that could include new outparcels or some more extensive redevelopment, one has to wonder the impact of the widening on their own renovation plans for the center.
The open house will run from 4:30 to 6:30pm at the NCSSM auditorium, with a formal presentation starting at 7pm. A map of the project's impact area is posted on the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO site.