S Saunders/Western/MLK Interchange

By way of showing that we are not alone, here is an article about a downtown area interchange in Denver that people want eliminated. I wouldn’t even wait for the useful life of this bridge (Raleigh’s) to end…rip it out now.

Interesting! I can see that the interchange in question is quite a dead zone in downtown, and could definitely be put to better use.

The question I have is: with what should it be replaced?

@dtraleigh can attest to the fact that I am all about ripping out these freeway style interchanges in the core of our city! Thankfully, Raleigh doesn’t have a true interstate grade/type road running through its center.
I truly wish you luck in that endeavor, but I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen!

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If I had a lot of money and had it my way? Re-direct Glenwood traffic directly into Wade and Capital Blvd without stopping. A braindead driver should naturally want to take either Wade or Capital Blvd instead of continuing down Glenwood onto Peace Street. Somewhere between the Glenwood/Capital Blvd Merge south should be a bi-directional tunnel with McDowell and Dawson converted to slow speed local traffic. MLKJr. intersection should be buried as well and a park on top.

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Bumping this topic because of the recent discussion (not only about this interchange, but also about grid extensions and infill in general) in the Five Horizons South Saunders thread . . .

This interchange occupies a lot of space, and doesn’t use it very efficiently. As we know, it replaced a partial gridded low-income neighborhood when it was constructed.

I’m very curious about what the members of this forum would like to see in place of the current interchange, if a hypothetical removal were to occur. How would you extend the street network, and how would it interact with the community? It would be especially helpful if you could draw out your fantasy on a map, such as with Google MyMaps.

Please show us your ideas!

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Whatever it is it needs to include some pedestrian access - greenway between Downtown and Dix.

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if you opened a shop under that bridge that serves :doughnut: & :coffee:, you’d make a killing :money_mouth_face:

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Maybe Cup of Jane needs a second location…

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I wanted shops under the Capital bridge over Peace St. to activate the new sidewalks and give people reasons to walk under it. Oh well…

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Perfect location for Street-Meat carts. Not everything needs a permanent building to activate the space.

I would have been fine with carts or other mobile units like you see in many cities, but I don’t think that the city even considered that when proposing the sidewalk depths. Also, I wonder what sort of access to power even exists on those sidewalk stretches under the new Capital bridge.

I remember you saying that. Would change the whole experience of that walk for sure, to almost pleasant. My guess is there is more power than before with some sort of lighting underneath but not sure about receptacles. Too forward thinking for Raleigh and this DOT? Maybe with the re-do in the year 2100…

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Does anyone have a guess on the elevation change between Western/MLK down to McDowell/Dawson?
It seems like getting everything on the same level would be a big impediment to any changes.
Is there an engineer in the house that can describe the possible feasibility of removing the interchanges?

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My Strava in the downtown proper area stays from 300 to 350. Along Walnut creek it gets as low as 250 and Cameron Village is about 400. The high point in Umstead is about 450.

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I think keeping the interchange but rebuilding it as a tight diamond without all the loops and high speed ramps is a more likely option. Something along the lines of the North Capitol St/New York Ave intersection in DC would be the goal.

This would still reduce the footprint by at least 3/4, would not be dismissed out of hand as wasting a perfectly good bridge that is just 20 years old, would help to maintain better vehicular LOS (Gotta speak NCDOT’s language after all) and would actually be better for pedestrians than an at grade intersection, IMO, since peds walking along MLK would only have to cross traffic turning off of Saunders instead of crossing the through lanes as well. Peds walking along Saunders get the same experience as they would in an at grade intersection. Sidewalks would go along the ramps, and then a crosswalk across all lanes of MLK, and then back down the ramp on the other side.

Rebuilding and extending the grid (with at grade intersections) would be the best option, but also way more expensive, not that much more beneficial, and arguably not feasible in the first place due to impacts to Washington Elementary and Gateway Park apartments.

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Off topic, but the water tower by the vet school is at about 510’. Want to know where a high point is? Look for a water tower.

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Might be a good location for the cool new kid of interchanges, the diverging diamond. I have my opinions about it, but it would definitely free up more space over the current partial cloverleaf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diverging_diamond_interchange

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I keep re-reading this and remain confused. Can you please explain again? Thanks!

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It’s an elevated bridge with about 20 foot difference between Western Blvd and S Saunders. Somehow you would have to bring those 2 different elevations to the same level in order to create a normal four way intersection.

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Yes exactly. Ty. Also there’s another bridge to the west where Western crosses Saunders so I assumed that would limit what you could do. It seems ,judging by the suggestions of @orulz, the trick will be just to reduce the footprint of the interchanges. It seems not really feasible to turn it into a regular 4 way intersection.

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