Hillsborough, NCDOT have plan to help Churton St. traffic flow
Big changes could transform the town’s critical South Churton Street corridor over the next decade, giving people more ways to get around, visit and live in Hillsborough – instead of sitting in traffic.
The town has been working with the N.C. Department of Transportation for years on a plan for improving Churton Street, which connects the town’s commercial strip and its historic downtown. Traffic slows to a crawl at least twice a day during the week, as commuters drive north to rural homes or south to Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
The plan would expand South Churton Street to four lanes with center turn lanes, and add bike lanes and sidewalks from Interstate 40 to Orange Grove Road. A separate project would update the Interstate 85 interchange at South Churton Street.
The road widening won’t fix problems downtown, but it and other projects will help bring changes envisioned in a 2006 plan for the town’s commercial strip, said Margaret Hauth, planning director and assistant town manager.
“We want it to be a commercial corridor, but we also want it where people can safely walk and bike if they choose to,” Hauth said.
Planners have acknowledged traffic still could bottleneck at the Eno River Bridge, but historic homes and buildings only leave enough room for two lanes through downtown. (A plan to build a bypass around downtown using Elizabeth Brady Road was dropped in 2010.)
“You’re not going to see the buildings come right up to the edge of Churton Street,” Hauth said, noting it won’t look like the East 54 development in Chapel Hill. “We want a little
bit more green space, push the buildings back a little bit, get people onto the site, and then the sites themselves will look more urban and be more interconnected.”
The public will get its first look at the plan Tuesday, Jan. 8, during a dropin meeting at Hillsborough’s Town Hall Annex board room on East Corbin Street. Materials also are at ncdot.gov/news/ public-meetings, although Hauth said the information is very preliminary.