Central Chapel Hill intersection improvements to start; Big Rosemary St. and Estes Dr. Projects due to be completed in spring

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By Gregory DL Morris

Some realignment, along with sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and a traffic signal, will be added to the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and North St. near Fire Station One and Town Hall starting Monday, January 8, weather permitting.

The timing of the project is affiliated with the construction of a large parking deck on Rosemary St. that has blocked that road for months. According to the Town of Chapel Hill, both projects are slated to be completed in the spring. The other major road project in town, along Estes Dr., is scheduled to be completed in spring. That has blocked Estes westbound for months as a new housing development is built.

The contractor for the MLK/North St. intersection work is Cinderella Partners Inc. “At this point, late spring is the firmest date we have [for completion],” said Susan Brown, executive director for strategic communications for the town. “There are several variables, including weather, that may influence the completion date.”

In the project’s announcement, the town stated, “We expect Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to remain open during construction; however, lane closures and delays are sometimes possible. During construction, N. Columbia Street will be closed to drivers at Carr Street. Drivers should use Stephens Street as a detour. We expect N. Columbia Street to remain open to pedestrians during much of the project. We ask that everyone slow down and be careful while moving through the area. We’ll share updates if we learn of any changes to these plans.”

Brown told TLR, “These intersection improvements complement the Rosemary Street parking deck project, which is why they’re happening at the same time.” According to Brown, the parking deck will include an exit that allows drivers to leave in the direction of the intersection. Community members who detour around the Rosemary Street closure can still move through the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and North Street intersection during construction.

This project also advances the Town Council’s stated efforts toward “a safe, connected community, including pedestrian improvements that are part of the future North/South Bus Rapid Transit project. It also aligns with [our] commitment to economic and financial stewardship, which includes a focus on downtown revitalization.”

Separately, Estes Drive is expected to open both ways again this spring. The end date for that project also depends on the weather. Weekly updates about the Estes Drive project are available online here.

Gregory DL Morris is a business journalist and historian who reports regularly for TLR.

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