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The Daily Tar Heel

Road Rules: \Widening Plan Divides Town

The council voted 6-3 to widen the remaining two-lane sections of the road to three lanes. But in a memorandum to the council, Town Manager Cal Horton recommended widening Weaver Dairy Road to four lanes with a median. The option was one of nine possibilities for the road.

This means Weaver Dairy Road will eventually contain several transitions from two lanes of traffic in each direction to only one with a center turning lane.

George Small, town director of engineering, said the failure to pass Horton's recommendation was not a surprise, feeling the council would respond to residents' concerns for the neighborhood. "I think that (the Town Council was) concerned about the extent of the disturbance of a wider cross section, and they were balancing that disruption against road capacity, and they sacrificed capacity to prevent disruption to the corridor," he said.

Many residents voiced their concerns at the meeting about the proposal to widen Weaver Dairy Road to more than three lanes. While there was some support for the manager's proposal, the majority of those who spoke were strongly opposed to his plan for four lanes with a median.

Cyndy Riska, president of the Home Owners Association of Silver Creek, shared her concerns about the dangers of having to cross a four-lane road with a median. "I don't know how many people who would feel safer standing in a little stretch of grass in the middle of the highway," Riska said.

Riska also said even though the planning for the road widening had been going on for 10 years, the Town Council should consider the changes in the neighborhoods that surround Weaver Dairy Road, including a high school and a senior center.

After listening to residents, the Town Council discussed the issue. Mayor Rosemary Waldorf, who supported the four-lane plan, said she is disappointed that the manager's proposal is not going to pass. She said because there is no major thoroughfare running east-west in the north part of Chapel Hill, the four-lane option is more viable. "I don't support the motion (for three lanes)," she said. "I know that this resolution (for three lanes) will pass, but I have some real reservations."

Town Council members Lee Pavao and Pat Evans also are opposed to the three-lane widening project. They expressed concern about the road's ability to handle the traffic volume and the fact that Weaver Dairy Road will now contain several transitions from two lanes in each direction down to one lane and back again.

But Town Council member Edith Wiggins said she supports three lanes rather than four. "I hate to see Weaver Dairy Road become Airport Road," Wiggins said.

Construction of the wider roadway is not expected to begin until late 2002 and should continue through 2005.

Small said it should be a visually distinct road once all the work is completed. "One of the challenges that we will face will be making it work as best as possible."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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