NC 54 Corridor Improvements.

Project page:

Important feedback needed (deadline July 31)

The North Carolina Department of Transportation held two public meetings in early July seeking public feedback on proposed improvements to the NC 54 corridor between Chapel Hill and Durham. Certainly, no one who travels this area by any means would argue some attention is needed. Looking at the proposal, there is a key opportunity missed for cyclists in the area seeking a connection between Chapel Hill and durham by bike. Looking at this map, the current design has a sidewalk on one side and a multi use path on the other. This is an easy adjustment and we ask for your feedback to the NC DOT on this account. Here are the issues.

  • This area is the stretch of NC 54 where there is little or no businesses on either side (part of it is swamp). This is not a walking corridor, this is a biking corridor.
  • Why not have a multi use path on BOTH SIDES.
  • The current design will force cyclists heading West, and on the side of the road with the sidewalk to need to cross NC 54
  • With more lanes, and few lights and crosswalks, this will be dangerous, and add to unnecessary conflicts
  • There is clearly enough space in the cross section to find the extra 5 feet and put a multi use on the sidewalk side.
  • This change would make this a SLAM DUNK that NC DOT could be proud of in accommodating cyclists commuters and people wishing to make way for the American Tobacco Trail

Additional issues

One of the designs (a very expensive concept at that) proposes a multi layered road,

Not enough pedestrian crossings. This area is becoming more and more dense. The north side already had Meadowmont, and the South side is getting more dense development. The recently completed East 54, the current Glen Lenox project and the (still pending) development that will spring up around the light rail station. With the lack of multi modeal options, people living on either side of 54 will simply drive to a shops restaurants or business on the other side as it will be too dangerous with the car prioritized designs the NC 54 proposes. This will actually contribute to the traffic congestion these designs purport to alleviate

One of the options that especially stands out as undesirable (a very expensive concept at that) proposes a multi layered road, that essentially makes a canyon that separates the two sides of NC 54 with huge walls

See photo below. This option looks very much like the highways that scarred Americans cities in the 60’s and they have yet to recover fully from. See here and here for stories about these types of highways.

So what to do? Please contact the people on the page linked above, and request the section between I40 and 751 go all the way, and place 10 foot multi use paths on BOTH sides. Why not take advantage of the work and funding and make this a meaningful connection between these two cities? As far as the ‘canyon’ please suggest the alternatives as they ay least offer opportunities for multi modal crossings. Once you end up with the road in a canyon, only bridges will be possible for safe crossings. If you have seen these bridges in urban areas, you will not they are spaced wide enough to make them unusable for most people they are expected to server. However they are largely unused.