Residents and business owners in Fayetteville’s historic Haymount community will soon see some significant improvements at the five-point intersection at the top of the Hay Street hill. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has earmarked $10,000 for preliminary engineering for a project designed to make the area safer for pedestrians and motorists, according to Eric Vitale, a planner with the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The city of Fayetteville has already created new crosswalks where Highland and Oakridge Avenues intersect the business district. The other three roads, Hay Street, Morganton Road and Fort Bragg Road, are state-maintained streets. The DOT will completely remake the confluence of the five roadways with new crosswalks, traffic signals and push-button pedestrian controls.
The speed limit along Morganton and Fort Bragg Roads in the business center was reduced to 25 mph several years ago when an elderly pedestrian was struck and killed.
In March of last year, the five-point commercial district was transformed into a pedestrian-friendly area on a Saturday afternoon as part of a Build a Better Block project. “The purpose of this project (was) to revitalize the area, test ideas for the future, increase pedestrian safety, engage the community and boost the economy,” Vitale said in a news release.
During the event, Hay Street, Morganton Road and Fort Bragg Road were temporarily converted into a pedestrian- friendly area with narrowed traffic lanes, widened sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, benches and plazas. “Fayetteville is a perfect place for a Better Block project, especially considering that out of the 141 cities in the country with a population greater than 200,000, Fayetteville ranks last in walkability,” Vitale said.
Much of the one-day outlook was familiar to panelists who took part in a local Urban Land Development Institute public meeting a year earlier, in April of 2017. It, too, proposed changes for Haymount Hill — in conjunction with the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center planned for Arsenal Park. A technical assistance panel presented recommendations on strategies to leverage the future of the History Center, which is expected to generate on- and offsite income of $5 million annually.
As many as 130,000 people are projected to visit the History Center, which will become a branch of the state history museum complex. The technical assistance panel was to assess and provide advice on the challenges to create a more vibrant mixed-use Fayetteville neighborhood following the eventual opening of the History Center. The group was also supposed to address pedestrian and transportation needs. But the Urban Land Development Institute plans never came to fruition.
City officials who may know why that is have declined to elaborate. “The group hasn’t met in more than a year,” said Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer.
“The city no longer has someone on staff who is actively working the walkability study from a few years ago,” added city spokesman Kevin Arata.
It will be up to FAMPO and the DOT to carry Haymount’s walkability development forward.