Study: New UNC will double traffic

Staff WriterMay 6, 2009 

  • 7 p.m.Thursday, a public education meeting about Carolina North, including presentation of the draft traffic impact analysis, will be held at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive.

    7 p.m. Monday, a public hearing on Carolina North will be held at Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

— Fifteen years from now, the future Carolina North campus will nearly double the traffic on the roads that feed it, according to a draft analysis released Tuesday.

Right now, about 40,000 vehicles travel Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Estes Drive every day. By 2025, 40,000 more will enter or leave the campus, and MLK Jr. Boulevard will exceed capacity by 2015 because of the new traffic, says the analysis prepared by consultants at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.

By 2025, parts of Estes and Eubanks Road will see traffic volume more than twice capacity, unless those roads are widened or traffic is diverted.

The study says MLK Jr. Boulevard northbound will need an additional left turn lane onto Estes Drive Extension by 2015. By 2025, "many more intersections may need signal timing adjustments and turn lane additions to maintain their level-of-service," the report states. "More extensive reconstruction may also be needed of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Estes Drive in the immediate vicinity of the site."

More than a dozen intersections along MLK, Homestead Road, Greensboro Street in Carrboro, Columbia Street, Estes Drive and U.S. 15-501 already have poor levels of service, according to the study. With the new traffic as of 2015, others would reduce their levels to E or F, the lowest two grades. They include:

MLK at I-40

MLK at Weaver Dairy Road

MLK at Piney Mountain Road

MLK at Estes Drive

North Greensboro at Weaver Street

Estes Drive at Caswell Road

Estes Drive at East Franklin Street

By 2025, more than 20 additional intersections would have poor levels of service, as far west as the Calvander community on Old N.C. 86.

Carolina North traffic may also trigger a need for signal lights at Homestead and Rogers roads and at Estes Drive Extension and Airport Drive.

The draft analysis calls for new sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, bus stops and bike lanes to serve the campus.

"The redesign of major roads adjacent to the site will need to account for these sidewalk and pedestrian crossing needs," it says.

Chapel Hill Transit will require one or two more buses by 2015 and at least 10 by 2025, according to the analysis.

"The cost for operating these initial vehicles should be borne by the project," the report states.

The study suggests potential traffic-calming measures to discourage cut-through traffic on and near the following streets:

Piney Mountain Road

Hillsborough Street (Chapel Hill)

Seawell School Road

North Elliott Road

North Lakeshore Drive

Barclay Road

Northwood Road

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8760

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