The N.C. Department of Transportation wants the public’s input on plans to reconfigure the intersection at Estes Drive Extension and North Greensboro Street in Carrboro.
Chris Smitherman, a division design engineer, said the department is considering converting the intersection from a three way stop with a traffic light into a roundabout.
“Right now it’s a conventional signalized intersection, and there may be changes we could make and still maintain it as a conventional intersection, but it looks like a roundabout may give us more improvement,” Smitherman said.
Estes Drive Extension is one of the main roads moving traffic between Chapel Hill and Carrboro. It dead ends at North Greensboro, a winding two-lane road that funnels residential traffic to and from Carrboro’s downtown. It’s also an area heavily traveled by cyclists, pedestrians, and buses.
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Alderman Damon Seils, who represents Carrboro on the board of the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, said town leaders have advocated to make the project a local priority.
“We’ve been trying to find ways to make things better at that intersection,” said Seils, referring to efforts to change the traffic signal pattern to favor pedestrians. “Now there’s funding available to make physical improvements.”
Smitherman said $1.025 million has been allocated for the project in the 2015 State Transportation Improvement Plan.
While Seils and Smitherman stressed the project is in the early planning phase, and the final design still up for debate, they both point to the potential of a roundabout to slow down and smooth out traffic flow.
“That’s going to slow things down for everybody at that intersection,” said Smitherman. “Typically when you have a signal, one leg stops and the other has a green light. At a roundabout, everybody slows down equally, so that helps our pedestrians and our bicyclists going through that area.”
The site does pose some design challenges, Smitherman said, including how to incorporate a nearby greenway and a stream that runs under North Greensboro Street.
There’s also the question of how much of the surrounding land will need to be acquired by DOT to accommodate the improvements. If officials choose to expand the conventional intersection, Smitherman said it’s likely the turn lane on Estes would need to be lengthened.
He estimated it might take a year to finalize the design and negotiate right of way and easement agreements. Construction would likely start in January 2018 and last approximately nine months, though Smitherman said it’s not yet clear how that would impact traffic at one of Carrboro’s busiest intersections.
“Right now, the thought is maintaining traffic through that intersection through the construction,” he said. “That would be one of the challenges, how do we build this and keep people moving through it.”
DOT representatives will host an information session on Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Carrboro Town Hall to share maps, answer questions, and take feedback about the proposals.
“I’m not driving through the intersection every day, so I can only base my decisions on the data that I’ve got here,” Smitherman said. “The folks who live and drive that every day, they’re going to bring something more to the table than I can see from just the data.”
Written comments will be accepted through Dec. 6.
DOT representatives will host an information session from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at Carrboro Town Hall to share maps, answer questions, and take feedback about the proposals.