Pittsboro proposing a new highway

Posted 1/7/21

PITTSBORO — To address mounting traffic through Pittsboro’s historic downtown, the town — in partnership with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation and Chatham Park investors — is proposing …

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Pittsboro proposing a new highway

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Posted

PITTSBORO — To address mounting traffic through Pittsboro’s historic downtown, the town — in partnership with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation and Chatham Park investors — is proposing construction of a new 2.7 mile-long highway to be called the North Chatham Park Way.

The proposed road will circumvent downtown, beginning at the U.S. Hwy. 64 bypass just north of Suttles Road and ending at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 near Russell Chapel Church Road. It will connect to the newly completed segment of Chatham Park Way now open to traffic.

The project is estimated to cost just over $18 million; construction will finish in the spring of 2023. NCDOT anticipates construction of a South Chatham Park Way to begin immediately thereafter, concluding in 2027. It will connect to the North Chatham Park Way just north of the U.S. 64 bypass.

Town and state leaders hope the new roadway will alleviate rising congestion as Pittsboro’s population continues to grow and traffic volume escalates. Right now, U.S. 15-501 — which directs all traffic through the crowded historic downtown — is the only major north-south route through Pittsboro.

Chatham Park, the population of which will constitute most of Pittsboro’s new residents over the next 20 years, is expected to contribute to the highway’s construction as it has to other town-sponsored infrastructure projects designed to accommodate the growing development.

The ultimate goal with the North Chatham Park Way, according to an NCDOT release, is to provide an alternate route for traffic through downtown Pittsboro while continuing to support the economic development of the region and increase travel options not only for drivers, but for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well.

In tandem with the NCDOT’s proposal for a new highway, the town of Pittsboro has begun road construction downtown to update and expand the traffic circle. The project is still in its infancy, but already some community members are voicing apprehension.

“I will lay a bet accidents will increase and tempers when this is done,” wrote one Chatham resident on Facebook.

In response, another commenter expressed distrust with the town’s motive: “They trying to confine you,” she said, “... everything has 2 reasons everything leads to control.”

Tom Glendinning, a Chatham resident who recently lost a bid for N.C. Senate, called the project “lipstick on a pig.”

“The only thing that will increase business ‘downtown’ is an increase in population here,” he said on Facebook. “Loyalty to businesses left when lifelong Pittsboro citizens died ... No fancy traffic circles, signs or cosmetics will revive a town without jobs.”

But other community members were more hopeful.

“I am so glad there’s some focus on rejuvenating downtown PBO,” said a Facebook commenter.

Another expressed confusion at the opposition to what she said would help downtown business “to be able to be competitive.”

“The burying of the powerlines and beautification and safety of the sidewalks and crosswalks are a huge part of making our downtown a destination,” she said, “and not just a convenient thoroughfare.”

To formally entertain Chathamites’ opinions on the North Chatham Park Way, NCDOT will host a virtual presentation at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7. All are invited to attend, but the project team has reached out to adjacent property owners and encouraged their attendance. Members of the public interested in submitting comments and questions must register by noon on Thursday at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/R5930REG. The virtual meeting can be accessed at https://tinyurl.com/R5930JAN2021.

Those unable to attend may email or phone in their comments and questions by Feb. 7 using the contact information listed below.

Immediately following the virtual presentation, the N.C. Division of Environmental Quality will hold a separate public hearing to address the Chatham Park North Village Project and the proposed North Chatham Park Way.

Presentation materials are available on the NCDOT website and hard copies will be sent out if requested. Following the live broadcast, a recording of the meeting will be available on the project website.

To contact NCDOT about the North Chatham Park Way project, email comments or questions to North-Chatham-Park-Way@publicinput.com or phone them in to 984-2057-6615 (enter project code 8027).

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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