Well, it's true: As long as former councilors Jessie Taliaferro and Joyce Kekas had their fangs in Hillsborough Street's neck, no initiative for that street on the part of Mayor Meeker or his supporters could go anywhere.
But since Monday, a 7 to 1 city council majority for re-investment and revitalization of this important urban corridor -- the front door to the state's flagship land-grant university -- is in play.
Word's in from the first meeting of the Hillsborough Street Partnership since the new City Council was sworn in Monday night: The mood was encouragement -- relief -- and renewed hope that Raleigh's long-neglected main street will soon be on the mend, with the institutional buy-in that's now possible with a working, pro-Raleigh majority on the city's elected board.
Change won't take long, either. In May, construction will begin on the first two Hillsborough Street roundabouts, along with landscaping, parking, and median improvements. The ugly aerial utilities will come down, and streetscape improvements to sidewalks and other street furnishings will be installed.
Next up for consideration, on December 11: choices for another roundabout, at Morgan Street.
The last time Council looked at the question, it was still mired in the same voting deadlock that impeded progress on so many other issues in the last two years.
Meanwhile, at the staff level, the highway dinosaurs in the city's Public Works department (and the consulting engineers they hired) were still advocating for a high-speed thru lane to circumvent the roundabout -- as if Hillsborough Street were just another Taconic State Parkway.
Expect a different approach next week. And over the next two years.
Side note: Woe betide those city staffers who don't shift gears (or perhaps we should say, match their stride) to the new council's more inclusive, pedestrian-friendly approach.