A bike and pedestrian artery for our community

Ruby Sinreich's picture

Given that development plans have slowed, one of the more immediate remaining questions about Carolina North is how people will get there.  The Town of Chapel Hill has been studying the issue of how to best move pedestrians and bicycles, especially. They held several public meetings, and this week they released a recommendation.  I'm very happy to see the town staff favored Route A, which uses Cameron Avenue, the Libba Cotton bike path, and the right of way around the rail line as it goes north from Carrboro to the Horace Williams tract. (See map below.)

[route A] The other two alternatives involve going through the middle of Northside and then down the steep banks of Bolin Creek to Umstead Park (B), or going down Hillsborough Street and through the Mount Bolus neighborhood (C). At one point there was also an incredibly circuitous route being discussed that went through Battle Park, but I'm glad to see that has fallen off the table.

I am very excited about route A as it will also help to connect my own neighborhood to Carolina North, downtown Carrboro, and UNC. (I've written about our lack of connectivity before.)  What do you think of this path? Check out the Town's Campus-to-Campus Connector page to learn more.

(Unfortunately, the Town's web site doesn't have many maps you can view on the site, but they do let you download PDFs of the recommendation and reviews of each route. Baby steps.)

Afternote: Back in the late 90s when UNC worked with the Town of Chapel Hill to develop the JJR Report (a broad brush stroke version of the future satellite campus) there was a clear commitment from UNC leaders to not build beyond the capacity of our existing roads, which were already crowded.  This meant that whatever got built on the Horace Williams tract would be relying on transit and other other forms of access if it were to succeed in any way. I haven't heard anyone from UNC mention this in over 10 years, but I hope that the principle will stick.

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5 Comments

Rhayader's picture

Online maps

Unfortunately, the Town's web site doesn't have many maps you can view
on the site, but they do let you download PDFs of the recommendation and
reviews of each route. Baby steps. Hah, good call.

Contingent on town of Carrboro's support?

In some of the supporting documentation, the planners mention that the A Route go-ahead woudl be contingent on support from the town of Carrboro.  I'm wondering if there would be any reason why the town of Carrboro would not support this route?  It seems like a win-win for everyone from my perspective, but I'm curious as to what any potential roadblocks might be? 

James Coley's picture

Plan A looks good to me!

As a Village West resident, and as a supporter of transportation reform, I am delighted, given what I know so far, about Plan A. It looks like, not only a good way to connect Carolina North to the main campus, but also the best way to increase pedestrian and bicycle access to downtown Carrboro from my neighborhood, and thus reduce the need for car trips.It appears to largely solve the problem caused by Brummett's Folly, the hideous chain-link fence, with barbed wire along the top, next to Estes Park Apartments. This “prison camp” barrier makes residents not one bit more secure from burglars, but it does make pedestrian and bike transportation in my neighborhood dangerous and inconvenient for law-abiding people who choose to use alternative transportation.Others in the neighborhood should not worry that crime will increase if Plan A is built. Thieves and others up to no good do not mind, it may surprise us to learn, walking through the woods or climbing under or around chain-link fences. In fact, having a well-lighted and frequently used pedestrian and bicycle path in the neighborhood will tend to discourage those who are walking in the area for nefarious purposes.It is a strange prejudice against pedestrians and bicyclists to brand them as likely criminals. This prejudice is, I conjecture, a symptom of how automobile dominance in our culture distorts the thoughts and feelings of otherwise reasonable people.James Coley

George C's picture

One (at least) issue to be aware of

is that there is, as yet, no identified funding source for this project.  Staff mentioned that one source might be state and federal grants but the Town Staff also noted that such grants (aren't they all?) are difficult to come by if they are viewed as being more for "recreational" purposes than transit or mobility purposes.  Given that caveat, it might be very important to stress the interconnectivity provided by this route, even more so than the fact that it will provide a great opportunity for citizens to access the trails of the CN property and such other adjunctive "recreational" benefits.

Estes Park

Just so everyone knows, a bunch of Estes Park residents will use this route regardless of whether the managment removes the gate.  There's already a path from the train tracks through the woods to the complex that is well-used.  However, due to its steepness, it's by no means accessible to all or even most, especially not bikers, and the fence really needs to come down for the benefit of all.  But we should consider this a benefit to the residents of Estes Park even if management doesn't cooperate.