‘Shared Streets’ project in Durham will close roads, promote outdoor social distancing

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — While North Carolinians wait for the gyms to reopen, larger crowds of people can be seen walking and biking outdoors.

In an effort to keep everyone social distanced, the city of Durham is now looking at blocking off some streets to give people more room to move.

Durham officials said this will be made possible through their “shared streets” pilot project where the city will block off two to three streets to through traffic. This will give people more space for outdoor activities.

“This is an opportunity to provide places for activities closer to peoples homes, while encouraging physical distancing,” said Dale McKeel, transportation planner for the city of Durham.

The city is currently considering 10 streets for the project and neighbors are encouraged to fill out a survey.

Christine Bixiones lives on Arnette Avenue, which is one of the streets the city is considering blocking off through the project.

Bixiones said she has definitely seen more people exercising outside since the pandemic started.

“We see a lot of people taking walks in the afternoon and in the evening,” Bixiones said.

Bixiones said that there are no sidewalks on Arnette Avenue and that there is often a lot of traffic that comes through her neighborhood.

She said this can make it dangerous for her neighbors when they go for walks.

“I think cars often use Arnette because there are no speed bumps or stop signs and so they are passing through our neighborhood,” Bixiones said.

Bixiones said she is hoping Arnette Avenue will be one of the first streets the city chooses to block off under the pilot project.

“My kids are always wanting to play outside with their friends in the neighborhood and I think this will just help our community and our neighborhood feel a lot safer,” Bixiones said.

Durham residents have until July 27 to fill out the survey for the “Shared Streets” pilot project. To fill out the survey go to the following link.

The city of Raleigh is also implementing a similar shared streets project.

According to the city’s website, crews will be closing off Fiesta Way from Falls of Neuse Road to Harps Mill Road; Mourning Dove Road from Six Forks to the end of Mourning Dove Road; Pineview Drive from Kaplan Drive to Avent Ferry Road; Rose Lane from Poole Road to the Walnut Creek Greenway access point, and Winthrop Drive from Rembert Drive to Millbrook Road.

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