New turning light installed at intersection of Franklin and Raleigh streets
On Dec. 21, a new turning light was installed at the busy intersection.
“There have been several requests in the past 10 years regarding the light, and finally the DOT, in the fall of last year, approved the change,” said Kumar Neppalli, Chapel Hill traffic engineering manager.
The traffic signal at the intersection is owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation but is maintained by the town, Neppalli said. Any decision regarding the light is made by the NCDOT but is implemented by the town of Chapel Hill, he said. The NCDOT specifically authorized a protected (green arrow) and permissive (full green ball) signal for northbound, left-turning vehicles.
Previously there was no green arrow for vehicles attempting to turn left, leading to backed-up traffic on Raleigh Street during peak hour periods.
“I was always taking the chance and inching out, turning left as the light turned red,” Anup Patel, a Chapel Hill resident, said.
There is currently only one lane in the northbound approach of Raleigh Street, and it’s shared by left-turning, through and right-turning vehicles.
The town was unable to expand the street for a left turn lane due to right-of-way restrictions, so Neppalli said a change in traffic lights was the best solution .
“I love the (new) light because the traffic always gets backed up due to folks turning left on Franklin, and the light provides a way for a bunch of cars to get out of the bottleneck at one time,” Patel said.
Since the implementation of the new signal phasing at the intersection of East Franklin and Raleigh streets, the town has observed reduced vehicle traffic in the northbound approach during afternoon and evening peak hours.
“I’m a nontraditional student living on north campus, and I have to go to and from work many afternoons after class,” UNC student Allen Longstreet said.
“I have to turn right on East Franklin Street at Raleigh Street, and the light would back up all the way to the intersection at Cameron Avenue from people trying to turn left. This signal will improve my daily transit significantly,” he said.
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