Across North Carolina, communities are increasingly anxious to foster walkable mixed-use development at urban-level densities. This is partly because older suburban land uses adjacent to many NCDOT highways are languishing and communities see Complete Streets and Form-Based Codes as a means of rejuvenating economic development and creating the “great places" that they feel like they lack. It's not just “languishing suburban" aiming for walkable, urban densities – many greenfield locations are aiming for “urban town centers" right from the beginning, and still other locations already are fully urban, and need traffic management solutions that respect and enhance their multimodal appeal.
NCDOT has expressed in this research statement confidence that many Alternative Intersections (AIs) can be adapted to fit well with urban environments. But NCDOT experience is that when proposing such concepts, stakeholders are often familiar with those designs built for existing exurban, high-speed highways and conclude too quickly, “That is definitely NOT what we want here!"
We are equally confident that there are many “win-win" AI designs that can make it possible to both manage traffic and catalyze great mixed-use development. The objective of this research is to create materials and strong arguments that can help these designs get a “fair trial" not just in the court of public opinion, but also with municipal engineers and planners. Access to 2D/3D visuals, graphics and other materials that would help them make an effective case. The purpose of this effort is to create those graphics and arguments, to discover the pros and cons of Alternative Intersections in urban settings, and communicate both the good and bad effectively to NCDOT and subsequent stakeholders. The purpose is to discover and articulate the strengths and weaknesses of AIs in helping transition “Suburban Stroads" into walkable, livable, functional “Urban Streets" that still help NCDOT manage the high traffic loads that they may have no choice but to manage.