Raleigh plans to develop along the BRT New Bern Ave line


Over two years ago, the city set out to plan for development along New Bern Avenue that will support the future bus rapid transit system without displacing the businesses and bus riders who live along. the road.

On Tuesday, planners will pitch their ideas online and at a public meeting and start asking for feedback.

The city hopes the rapid bus, or BRT, will attract riders with a faster, more comfortable ride. People will board at stations with raised, covered platforms, and buses will run in their own lanes with green lights at intersections, to keep them from getting bogged down in traffic.

The BRT New Bern Avenue line is the first of four lines the city hopes to build, departing from downtown. It will stretch 5.1 miles from GoRaleigh Station in the east to near New Hope Road, with 10 station stops along the way.

One of the goals of the plan the city will present on Tuesday is to encourage and enable denser development so that more people can live and work within walking distance of train stations. The second big goal is to accomplish the first while providing space for small businesses and affordable housing for bus users, said Jason Hardin, a town planner who manages the project.

One strategy to achieve this, Hardin said, is to change the zoning around train stations to allow developers to build taller buildings in exchange for apartments available at lower rents.

The plan will also include recommendations to facilitate access to stations on foot.

“We won’t have a great place, and we won’t have a great transit system, unless people can walk there safely and comfortably,” Hardin said. “And in some parts of the corridor there is work to be done to really reach that level. “

The plan will also require the city to spend money to encourage the kind of development it wants to see around train stations, which it has already started to do.

In April, the city paid $ 3.7 million to buy 24 duplex apartments on nearly four acres in Duplex Village, a complex built in 1949 east of Raleigh Boulevard. The city will seek a developer to build affordable housing on the site, which is adjacent to a former church where two nonprofits, The Presbyterian Homes Inc. and DHIC, hope to build 150 apartments for low-income seniors.

Public comments will influence the final plan

Hardin and other planners will present the development plan in person on Tuesday at the Tarboro Road Community Center, starting with an open house at 5 p.m. and a formal presentation and question-and-answer session at 6 p.m. People can also log in online from a link at raleighnc.gov / plan-zone-gare-new-bern.

The planning department will post the plan on the same website on Wednesday, along with instructions on how to comment. Hardin said the city would heed the comments throughout the first week of January, with the goal of delivering a final version to the planning committee and city council sometime in February.

GoRaleigh plans to begin construction on the New Bern BRT line next summer. He received $ 40.5 million in federal grants for the project; most of the remainder of the $ 76.5 million will come from the Wake County transit tax, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2016.

Construction is expected to take two years, with service starting in the summer of 2024. But if city council approves it, Hardin said he could start executing the development plan well before then.

“We don’t want to have a plan that does not start quickly enough to achieve these goals of housing choice, housing affordability and pedestrian safety,” he said. “These are important, and they don’t have to wait. “

For more information on GoRaleigh’s planned BRT system, including the other three lines, visit raleighnc.gov/bus-rapid-transit.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, as well as ferries, bicycles, scooters and quite simply on foot. Also, hospitals during the coronavirus epidemic. He has been a journalist or editor for 34 years, the last 22 of which at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.