Hills­bor­ough, NCDOT have plan to help Chur­ton St. traf­fic flow

The Herald-Sun (Sunday) - - Front page - BY TAMMY GRUBB [email protected]­ald­sun.com

HILLS­BOR­OUGH

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.

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