Chapel Hill street may reopen in April

Staff WriterMarch 22, 2006 

WHAT: Pittsboro Street, a busy one-way artery in Chapel Hill that closed more than a month ago, needs further repairs before it can reopen to traffic.

WHEN: UNC-Chapel Hill officials hope to get permission from the state Department of Transportation to begin work this week. They hope to finish by mid- to late April.

WHERE: Pittsboro Street is off Cameron Avenue and is an important route along the western edge of the UNC-CH campus to UNC Hospitals and the Dean Smith Center.

WHY: The road closed Feb. 15 after an inspector noticed damage in a steam tunnel underneath. Heavy traffic could cause serious damage, even road collapse.

The tunnel was built in 1939, and UNC-CH officials have done some reinforcement work under the road, said Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services. It was inspected quarterly, she said. The new damage must have happened "very recently," she said.

A $60 million project is under way to replace the tunnel, which runs perpendicular to Pittsboro Street. The severe damage was detected during an inspection for that project.

HOW MUCH: The university will have to spend about $500,000 to build a road hump that will serve as a bridge over the tunnel.

"Everything is ready to go," Elfland said, noting that excavation and other work already has been done in preparation for the bridge project. "We just can't start until DOT gives approval."

Elfland said DOT could give the green light as early as today.

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