First Avenue is one of three primary streets running through Old Town, Knightdale’s downtown district. The Town sought to improve service for a variety of transportation modes while elevating the appearance of the street in keeping with the historic character of the area. WithersRavenel prepared construction documents to widen approximately 2,000 LF of First Avenue to accommodate sidewalks and wider outside lanes that can be used as shared bike lanes. At intersections, bulb-outs act as traffic calming measures and offer more safe space for pedestrians looking to cross the street.
Site development, particularly utility conflicts, posed the greatest challenge to this project. Grading the site proved difficult due to the lack of setbacks at business properties and the number of street intersections and residential driveways that had to be crossed. Utility infrastructure that had been added or upgraded ad hoc at various points in the Town’s history meant a web of utility lines that were not always properly recorded; for example, WithersRavenel discovered a duct bank within the project limits that was completely undocumented and had to adjust the design accordingly. A water main and some sanitary sewer lines were also relocated.
Once these technical hurdles were overcome, WithersRavenel developed a “streetscape design palette,” a curated collection of amenities, landscaping options, and paving enhancements, to guide the Town’s choices when outfitting the widened street. The palette included recommendations for benches and pedestrian seating areas, pavers and colored stamped concrete at crosswalks, bicycle racks, ornamental trees and shrubs, planters, and trash receptacles. Each element was selected to complement the aesthetics of Old Town and the adjacent rail corridor while adhering to NC guidelines, Town budgetary constraints, and input from the Knightdale Old Town Oversight Committee.