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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Town Council talks Obey Creek development

This was one of 10 special meetings about Obey Creek planned for the next five months.

Sabrina Oliver, spokeswoman for the town, said the meetings were requested by the public and the council. They are all close together to front-load the schedule, with the possibility to cancel later meetings.

David Bonk, long range planning manager for Chapel Hill, said there is a potential conflict between the town and the state over U.S. Highway 15-501.

In order to accommodate the development, the town might want to make changes to the road, which they cannot do without the state’s compliance.

Another concern is bike and pedestrian transportation at Obey Creek.

The Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill wants there to be a bike lane near 15-501 from Dogwood acres to Mt. Carmel Church Road.

They also suggested that a non-motor crossway could be more economical than widening the James Taylor Bridge, which is a trouble spot for bicyclists.

Bonk offered the idea of an extension of a planned off-road path to Mt. Carmel Church Road to make it easier for bicyclists to get to Obey Creek.

However, doing this might require diverting funds from the construction of a greenway at Obey Creek.

Councilwoman Maria Palmer voiced concern about delaying the greenway.

“A family could bike around the development in a big loop,” Palmer said. “The development needs recreational facilities.”

Craig Scheffler, project manager for HNTB Corporation, presented the traffic predictions for the development.

Scheffler said some of side roads near Obey Creek are predicted to be inefficient, but 15-501 itself would not be congested. The traffic on the northern parts of town would not be affected by the traffic from the development.

Regarding transit, there are two current routes that would pass through the area.

Transit is predicted to reach capacity on the NS route during peak hours, which might prevent some bus riders from being able to use it..

The council discussed the idea of a new bus route. Councilwoman Sally Greene said it is an option that should be looked into.

“I would like to see an analysis of a new bus route to Obey Creek,” Greene said.

Palmer offered a suggestion of a bus that loops around the city, so Carrboro and Obey Creek could be connected without stopping on the UNC campus.

Chapel Hill resident Susana Dancy said the town should evaluate the current transit system capacity.

“You need to come up with a plan for Southern Chapel Hill,” Dancy said. “Road capacity is a public resource.”

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