Special Topic: Traffic Impact/Improvements at Country Club Rd

Jared Simmons's picture

On Wednesday, I attended the meeting assessing the pedestrian traffic issues along Country Club Rd.  The primary area of focus was between the Laurel Hill and Ridge Rd intersections.  The Ridge Rd intersection currently has right-of-way for Country Club Rd traffic and a stop sign for Ridge Rd traffic; however, there is much more vehicle traffic coming from Ridge Rd than Country Club.  The Laurel Hill intersection has neglible traffic apart from local neighborhood travel.

The history of the issue arose in 2008 when a petition was filed to the town by students in an attempt to address pedestrian safety concerns along Country Club Rd and at those intersections. The students walk from the T-Lot owned by the University to the School of Gov't and the Law School daily.  The lot is hardly ever full, but still can hold around 100 vehicles.  There currently is not a sidewalk or other access besides the road itself for the students to use. The town moved forward with the issue after conducting a pedestrian count indicating 300 pedestrians walked on the road per day.  At the meeting, the ped count was criticized, citing the inability to differentiate between 300 unique pedestrians or 150 pedestrians making back-and-forth trips.  Regardless, this criticism did not hold much water due to the fact that whether it is 1 person making 2 trips or 2 people making 1 trip doesn't change the amount of traffic, and only could speak towards demand.  After the town concluded that a sidewalk was needed, there was significant resistance from the residents due to a lack of right-of-way space between the private property lines and the town road.  The process was stopped, and here we are back at square one.

The meeting overall was very successful.  Members of the Planning Dept from the Town conducted a well organized meeting that identified many different approaches to the issues, and at their request, would not evaluate them at this stage.  The purpose of the meeting was to solely brainstorm ideas to fix the current problems.  After breaking into two small groups of about 10 people each, we identified some possible solutions to the ped safety problem:

1. Speed bumps

2. Lower the speed limit

3. Improved signage 

4. Share the road signs

5. All-way stop at Laurel Hill/Country Club Rds

6.Sidewalk installation

7. Improved town response to leaves piling up blocking/narrowing the street

8. "bike" type lane marked for pedestrians.

9. Expanded shuttle hours from T-Lot to Law School.

10. Improved intersection at Ridge/Country Club Rds intersection

 All these ideas received a lot of attention from both the students and residents, and it seems as though that the town department will be taking all measures into consideration and researching alternatives to the sidewalk.  Having said that, the sidewalk could still be chosen as the best option in the town's opinion, but at this point that seems unlikely.  The general interest in the room was for a combination of speed bumps, stop signs and improved signage along the area to improve safety for all.

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4 Comments

Travis Crayton's picture

Thanks, Jared

Thanks for this fantastic summary. I wasn't able to make it out to this meeting, but I'm happy to hear that it sounds like this is progressing. One question for clarification, though: Is the sidewalk not the preferred option in this scenario?

Jared Simmons's picture

It was at one point

But the residents did not like it.  The reasoning for the sidewalk from the town was that it was an intuitive response to the pedestrian safety issue.  However, it is my understanding that the right-of-way that exists between the private property lines and the road is not wide enough to accomodate a sidewalk, and the town would've had to use part of the private property.  This, being a nicer way of saying "eniment domain" for the first few feet of their property met heavy resistance.  The sidewalk was still discussed; however, there might be a armed (or unarmed since we are in Chapel Hill) riot if it is installed.  This is the first time I've seen a sidewalk installation fought against, but I definitely see their reasons.

What's wrong with sidewalks?

I also live on a street without sidewalks, and, while I understand that it takes time to make even the most basic street improvements, I find it unfathomable that people would resist getting sidewalks. (There has also been resistance to sidewalks on my street, but I think many of those who were against them are no longer living).Don't people like to walk places? Isn't a sidewalk more valuable than a bush or two on your property? I walk my dog twice daily, often with my toddler in tow, and am always worried about one of them getting hit by a car. More sidewalks, and wider sidewalks, would make Chapel Hill a much safer place to live.