Chapel Hill News

Chapel Hill adds library shuttle stop for seniors

Senior library shuttle starts

Seniors can ride a shuttle to the library starting Monday, instead of walking up the hill from a nearby bus stop.

The EZ Rider Senior Shuttle runs a regular route from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, with stops at the Seymour Senior Center, grocery stores and selected retirement communities.

Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield announced the change last week in response to a request from Town Council candidate Maria Palmer. Palmer wrote that she has been helping seniors get to the library, but some are too proud or embarrassed to ask for help.

The senior shuttle program started in January 2012 without a library stop, because the library was located inside University Mall, which has its own bus stops, Litchfield said. The agency has not received any other requests for a library stop, he told town officials in an email. The change will not affect other services or routes, he said.

South Columbia Street reopens

State transportation officials reopened both lanes of South Columbia Street to traffic last week after a long summer of detours.

The change will let Chapel Hill Transit buses return to their regular routes and schedules Monday. Nearly a dozen routes were affected by the $4.6 million project to widen and add a center turn lane and bus pullouts to South Columbia Street. The project started in December, and the southbound lanes closed to traffic April 1.

The new sidewalks opened to pedestrians in late July. The 0.8-mile project isn’t expected to wrap up until next summer, N.C. Department of Transportation officials said.

The town has run into setbacks, however, with its Morgan Creek trail extension and tunnel project, located about a mile south of the Columbia Street work site.

The $1.46 million project will not be finished when school starts because of heavy rains and underground soil problems. However, crews will reopen Culbreth Road by Aug. 26 and have construction flagmen on site to direct traffic, officials said.

The town is installing a concrete tunnel under Culbreth Road to connect the Morgan Creek and Fan Branch trails. The finished project will create the county’s longest paved trail system, connecting the Southbridge neighborhood with Southern Community Park, Southern Village and Scroggs Elementary School. A trail spur will connect pedestrians with Merritt’s Pasture east of U.S. 15-501 South.

Tar Heel Town to move downtown

A town-gown collaboration will transform West Franklin Street into Tar Heel Town this fall for ESPN’s broadcast of the UNC vs. Miami football game.

This year’s alcohol-free party will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 17. The event will require closing West Franklin Street from Columbia Street to Mallette Street.

“We chose this location because closing it is the least disruptive to downtown and our services,” Town Manager Roger Stancil said. “We also believe that as 123 West Franklin comes alive, there will be a natural connection between its public space and the public space at 140 West Franklin and such events may be more common. This can be a pilot for that day.”

Tar Heel Town has been held on campus since 1997, but officials decided to move it this year to bring national coverage and more people to Franklin Street businesses. Town staff has been working with UNC Athletics and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership to plan the event. It typically includes food vendors and other activities, including the football team’s march from the Old Well to Kenan Stadium.

UNC Athletics will pay for the event.

Library pavers campaign begins

The Friends of the Orange County Public Library (FOCPL) is coordinating a fundraiser to benefit the Orange County Public Library.

FOCPL is offering personalized brick pavers from Aug. 15 to Nov. 1 that will be installed in early 2014 at the entrance of the main library in Hillsborough.

Pavers can commemorate birthdays, graduations or anniversaries, memorialize a loved one or family pet, feature a favorite quote, etc.

FOCPL held two successful pavers sales in 2009 and 2010. These fundraisers allowed the group to purchase items, such as a self-checkout machine, Kindle e-readers, an LCD projector, furniture, and shelving for the main library.

“We are so pleased to offer pavers once again,” said FOCPL President Janet Flowers. “Even though the last sale was three years ago, people have continued to inquire about purchasing pavers. We’re glad to bring them back by popular demand!”

Pavers may be ordered online at Brochures and order forms are also available at the OCPL Main Library located at 137 W. Margaret Lane.

For more information about the Friends of the Orange County Public Library, please visit