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City Mulling Crabtree Roadway Options

crabtreeroads The City of Raleigh released their Public Review Draft Report for the Crabtree Valley Transportation Study at the City Council meeting on September 7, 2010. The study looks at several options for easing traffic woes while increasing safety and walkability in the area near Crabtree Valley Mall. The City Council  opened a public comment period for 30 days, with comments due by 5:00 PM on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 .

The website for this review shows PDFs of 9 or so different plans for the area. It appears that some central themes include putting more pressure on Crabtree Valley Avenue, enabling Ridge Road traffic to access Glenwood Avenue without entering 440E, and converting all speed ramp accesses to right turns.

To begin, I passionately hate the idea of removing entrance ramps and replacing them with 90-degree turns. Somewhat recent changes at Western Blvd. and I-440 resulted in a right turn to access 440 East. The result has been more unexpected brake tapping as queues build to access the acceleration ramp. Additionally this move wastes energy as drivers have to trim much speed, make the turn, then accelerate aggressively to reach cruising speeds on I-440. Surely the pedestrian was in mind, but this intersection has about a 100,000:1 car/pedestrian ratio. These pedestrians only have to manage crossing 12 feet while monitoring traffic from one direction. If the DOT wants those accessing the ramp to hold a slow speed until after passing the pedestrian crossing, then they should use signage and corrugated pavement to slow drivers.

I really like the idea of winding Ridge Road traffic around to Glenwood Ave and requiring it to use the ramp system there to access 440. This will allow the existing Ridge Road ramp area to play a role in accessing Crabtree Valley Avenue. I also feel that Crabtree Valley Avenue can become an important piece to this puzzle.

The nine plans must be considered for not only their effectiveness, but also their costs. They are as follows:

Plan (pdf) Cost est. ($mill) Feature
A1 29.5 No ramp over Ridge
A3 44.3 Ramp over Ridge
A3b 40.1 Exit cuts into land
A4 65.7 Lead Mine Flyover
A4b 52.8 1 Glenwood Flyover
A5b 89.9 Glenwood Flyovers
B1 21.4 Flyover to CVA
B2 7.9 Add 2 lights on CVA
B4 10.0 Reroutes CVA
"Ridge Road" 11.2 Changes cloverleafs

There is an additional plan called “ Ridge Road ” (.pdf) that appears to be the economy model. It removes cloverleafs for people exiting Glenwood in either direction, and reopens the one from 440E to Glenwood West. The problem with this plan is that it adds a signal to the west side of the intersection, requiring people going from Glenwood West to 440W to use a left turn signal. It also reintroduces the original problem with Glenwood’s cloverleaf; traffic entering and exiting 440E must cross over each other. This plan does, however, call for this zone to extend from the current Ridge Road entrance to beyond the Glenwood bridge. The plan would be cheap, but would not reduce accidents and really would not improve traffic on 440E as the loop exit only has a 1-car-wide queue.

Elements from the plans that I like:

  • Removing all exiting traffic from 440E at the current Ridge Road exit, before entering traffic has access to I-440.
  • Routing Ridge Road with the exiting 440E traffic over to Glenwood Ave.
  • Using Arrow Drive as a crescent, only accessible from Glenwood and Blue Ridge Roads.
  • In order for Crabtree Valley Avenue to truly be accessed efficiently, the flyovers in Plan B1 will be needed. However they may not be needed in the short term, as traffic can use existing Creedmoor Rd to access CVA and its 440 accesses.
  • I like the ramp design off of 440E in Plan A3b. It cuts into the existing woods just before the existing Ridge Road intersection and offers a more gentle curve. People will want the ramp’s ascension to help trim their speed gently, and that will cause fewer ripples back onto I-440E than the plans which call for using the existing, sharp exit shape.

Elements that are Not Necessary:

  • The plans to reroute Crabtree Valley Avenue up the Edwards Mill hill behind where Brendle’s was seem to accomplish nothing. In fact, they remove any possibility of gracefully linking the avenue with Glenwood.
  • The Lead Mine access flyovers to 440E and Glenwood are an expensive solution. What might work better is a modified-SPUI where Lead Mine road flies over Glenwood to become Blue Ridge Road. It should be designed, however, to send 440-bound traffic on southbound Lead Mine over to the Crabtree Valley Ave access, instead of using Glenwood Avenue’s access.
  • 440W direct access to North Hills Drive (as seen in the “Ridge Road” plan).
  • The plans, such as A3, which show westbound Ridge Road traffic passing under the ramps that access Crabtree Valley Avenue. Westbound Ridge Road would be a lightly traveled road, and a simple stop sign to cross over exiting 440E traffic should suffice and save a lot of money. Also I feel strongly that Varnell Avenue’s access remain open to Ridge Road. I don’t like the idea of limiting a neighborhood’s access to major roads to only one point.
  • All plans call for removing the signal for traffic exiting Crabtree onto Blue Ridge Road, and converting the access to a right in/right out. This calls for all traffic intending to go northbound on Lead Mind to instead use the Homewood Banks/Crabtree Valley Avenue access to get over to northbound Blue Ridge/Lead Mine. The increased pressure on this parking lot intersection probably calls for either a signal on private property or a roundabout.

I’m not the only one with an opinion, though. Be sure to send yours via email to valleystudy@gmail.com or via regular mail to:

Fleming El-Amin
City of Raleigh Public Works Dept.
P.O. Box 590
Raleigh, NC 27602

  • ct

    I agree with you about the 90 degree turns at off-ramps, and I had already emailed my input. Apparently the 90 degree turns are an attempt to deliberately slow down traffic. That’s amazing, given one of the project’s objectives is to increase traffic capacity. I support pedestrian-friendly design, but instead of the 90 degree turns a pedestrian bridge should be built over I-440.

  • Rob Rauth

    just wanted to comment on the “The plans to reroute Crabtree Valley Avenue up the Edwards Mill hill behind where Brendle’s was” and how wrong this is.

    I work off this road and you have no idea how many crazy drivers come out on crabtree valley and glennwood. I know because i have to be one of them at times. You literally have to get in the left turn lane and pretend to want to go left up edwards mill so folks let you in only to change your mind and go right in the third lane on edwards mill toward creedmor. One of the main reasons for this is this is a major bus route. By re-routing traffic up basically a block it puts you just a bit further away from the traffic light and gives you more of a chance to turn right or place another traffic light there. 30% of the time i have to go up through a neighborhood and come out farther away from the mall just to turn right.

  • Rob Rauth

    previous post i meant to say Crabtree Valley and edwards mill …sorry

  • JeffS

    This is a horrible plan that I can only assume benefits the future developers of land in this area. It does not benefit anyone else.

    The idea that sending more traffic through this area will somehow increase safety and walkability is absurd.

  • Rob J

    something only slightly related that i’d like to see is the removal of the 3 eiffel-tower-on-its-side signage structures along Glenwood. I’ve never seen anything as heinous as those rusted old things, and all they do is hold a few signs. It makes the whole areas seem too industrial and fugly. Can’t we use a more modern minimalist approach to the signage? Truly, if we’re going to change the traffic patterns we should put the lines underground and beautify the corridor as many people enter Raleigh this way.

  • https://raleighnc.gov Eric Lamb

    Thanks for the comments here – I would ask that anyone wishing to have their comments officially included for consideration to please send them to us at valleystudy@gmail.com .

    To respond to a couple of specific items:

    1) Yes, the recommended changes in ramp configuirations are specifically for pedestrians. there is a slight tradeoff between safety and efficiency that has to be considered. We’ve been very pleased with the Western Boulevard changes that we implemented several years ago with respect to improving pedestrian safety.

    2) No, this isn’t a plan to “benefit developers,” but is an objective long-range transportation plan. In fact, one of the recommendations of the land use element of the plan is to scale back some of the more intense land uses from what was originally contemplated in the Raleigh 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

    Many thanks to everyone to took the time to read the plan. And please let us know if you have any other questions or comments!

  • DPK

    The signs are necessary due to the volume that road receives. If they don’t alert drivers what lane they need to be in well before hand, there would be even more utter chaos than there is now.

    If you have a better idea of signing the road, I’d love to hear it. I agree the aerial signs are ugly but it’s necessary.

  • Rob J

    I agree that the signs are necessary, but there are not very many of them on each structure. More modern over-reaching arms could hold them on each side of the street as needed. The signs could also be suspended by dual cables crossing the street. I was not suggesting getting rid of the signs. I just would like to see the area cleaned up visually, as it’s really ugly right now.

  • Subway Scoundrel

    Need to look further and deeper but I don’t support more traffic on Ridge Road. Why run more traffic through a neighborhood street when an interstate and a major road run nearby. Not sure if that is happening but the idea of closing off the end of Ridge road for those going east (I think) is good. Not to mention Ridge Road is a bike path.

    Call me a NIMBY as I lived in this area for years.

  • Dana

    I don’t understand what you mean. Moving the access of Ridge Road/440 over to Glenwood won’t put more cars on Ridge. In fact, it will make it more difficult for Westbound 440 traffic to use Westbound Ridge as an alt. route when 440W is backed up.

    They are not closing off any part of Ridge Road. For those ?going east?:
    * to 440E – will proceed to Glenwood’s current offramp, and go straight through the light to a straightened 440E onramp.
    * to inbound/outbound Glenwood – will proceed to Glenwood’s current offramp and turn onto the appropriate Glenwood direction.

    The changes of access for Eastbound Ridge Road traffic will have zero affect on traffic counts for Ridge Road, as all possible current moves for this traffic will be only slightly altered.

  • https://www.HendersonStreetPlans.com Roger

    Dana is right about Ridge Road, the plan will decrease traffic on Ridge Road which is good because of the number of churches and schools along Ridge Road.

    On the subject of changing ramp geometry to favor pedestrians; it’s the least we can do to help. Anyone who walks and crosses streets knows the first rule is to catch the eye of the driver before entering the intersection. You can’t do that now at the Glenwood Ave interchange, the way the ramps curve. It’s not as if traffic is moving very fast now anyway.

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