The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Corridor study seeking local input

Goal is to manage road congestion

With heavy traffic congestion in mind, an area agency is seeking public input on infrastructure alternatives for the N.C. 54 corridor near Interstate 40 and Farrington Road.

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization is presenting five alternatives to the community as part of a larger mixed land use and transportation plan.

The group will hold two open house sessions, one in Chapel Hill on April 11 and one in Durham tonight, to receive public feedback about the options.

Leta Huntsinger, technical services team leader for the organization, said its goal is to manage congestion rather than improve traffic.

“From an engineering standpoint, you could build things to make it better, but you don’t want to do it at the detriment of the community,” Huntsinger said.

The first alternative, which Huntsinger said is the most expensive yet most efficient, includes building an elevated expressway to separate through traffic from local traffic.

Other proposals would use a combination of ramps, bridges or traffic lights to try to maintain full movement at the Farrington Road intersection.

Last, and least expensive, the group is considering building a reverse superstreet at Farrington Road to allow left turns and alleviate some of the gridlock the area experiences.

Huntsinger said her organization will perform in-depth analysis of the alternatives that garner the most public support.

“This is a trade off, and that’s what we’re going to try to get across to the public,” Huntsinger said.

Huntsinger said a final draft of the plan should be completed sometime in June.

Joey Hopkins, an N.C. Department of Transportation engineer, said the DOT has tried other options of managing traffic, but none have been effective enough.

He said the close proximity of Farrington Road and the east-bound ramps restricts what can be done to combat traffic issues.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said economic change cannot occur without dealing with transportation issues.

“If we don’t look to improve the transportation corridor, the traffic will continue to get worse, and we will be unable to accommodate enhanced economic activity,” he said.

He said funding for the changes to the corridor would come from the state and federal governments with local match requirements.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Ed Harrison said the corridor is important because it serves the entire state and provides access to the UNC campus and hospitals.

“I live in a group of neighborhoods that depend on N.C. 54 a lot to get anywhere,” he said.

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