The absence of crosswalks along stretches of NC-54 has created challenges for nearby apartment residents and off-campus UNC students that rely on the local bus system for transportation.
Sydney Clark, a 22-year-old outdoor educator and resident of Carolina Apartments, said she sees people from her apartment complex running across the road to get to the bus stop every day.
“It goes back and forth depending on the time of day too,” Clark said. “But it's every single day that I'm driving down 54 and there will be people like standing in the median, there'll be people in the middle of the street. And it's really dangerous.”
Chapel Hill Transit bus stops, which sit on both sides of NC-54, are positioned in areas without stoplights, meaning residents in the nearby apartment complexes have to cross the road without any pedestrian markers.
“When it would drop you off, it was on the other side of 54, like the whole highway,” Ally Newby, a junior at UNC and former resident of Kingswood Apartments, said. “All the students and everyone else would have to just run across the median and then run across, again, two lanes of traffic, and there was a curve in the road — so it was just kind of risky.”
The Town of Chapel Hill’s Annual Crash Report from 2021 listed NC-54 as one of 28 roads in the town’s High Crash Network, which includes streets with a high incidence of pedestrian or bicycle-related crashes over a five-year period.
Two recorded crashes in the report were in the vicinity of Kingswood Apartments, Laurel Ridge Apartments and Chase Park Apartments.
“We certainly have noticed that and certainly want to address that concern,” Josh Mayo, a transportation planner with the Town of Chapel Hill, said. “But that's one of those instances where a marked crosswalk will not suffice.”
Mayo said there is a pool of money set aside by the state to address safety issues on roadways.