The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday May 30th

Carrboro BOA votes to alter W. Main Street

Plan would accommodate cyclists

A plan to reconfigure a main Carrboro road could mean safer conditions for pedestrians — if it is approved by the state.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a proposal Tuesday to pursue reducing a stretch of West Main Street from four lanes to three with turn and bike lanes.

But the road is maintained by the state, and the plan must be approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation before the town can proceed, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said.

“It would be up to them to decide how the road would be striped, but they tend to take our thoughts into consideration,” he said.

The town has not yet submitted the plan to the NCDOT, said Steve Abbott, a spokesman for the department.

The proposal will go through a process of meetings and reviews to decide if the plan is safe and in the best interest of the town, he said.

“If we don’t think it’s safe, we won’t approve it,” Abbott said.

Chilton said the restructuring of the stretch of West Main Street between Weaver Street and Hillsborough Road would ideally be done when NCDOT repaves the road, which happens every few years.

Abbott said the road is not on schedule to be repaved in 2011.

The plan would provide the town with an almost cost-free way to add in more safety options for cyclists, Chilton said.

“It’s a very inexpensive way to create new bike lanes,” he said. “We’d just be reassigning pavement that’s already there.”

Chilton said studies have shown this plan could result in fewer accidents and overall safer conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

“It will probably mean that motor traffic will be forced to drive closer to the speed limit, which I think is a positive,” he said.

The stretch of road designated in this plan usually sees about 5,000 trips a day, and traffic usually isn’t a problem, Chilton said.

Carrboro resident Forrest DeMarcus said he supports the plan, but has concerns about how traffic would be on Saturdays, when Carrboro holds a farmers’ market next to Town Hall.

“Farmers’ market days are the most traffic around here,” he said. “But being Carrboro’s main road, I think it’s wise to accommodate their cyclists.”

Sara Gress, owner of N.C. Crafts Gallery on West Main Street, said she also would like to see the portion of the road become friendlier to walking traffic.

“I’m all for more pedestrian and bike traffic on this side of town,” she said.

“I think the more people we have walking around paying attention, the better it is for business.”

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