Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager


J.B. Culpepper, Planning Director


David Bonk, Long Range Planning and Transportation Coordinator


NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Corridor and Town-Wide Pedestrian Safety Evaluation Draft Study


February 26, 2007


The purpose of this report is to provide the Council with an update on the development of the NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Corridor/Town-Wide Pedestrian Safety Evaluation Study (Attachment 1) and propose a schedule for review and adoption. On December 4, 2006, the Town Council approved a resolution to refer the draft study to the Town Manager, Town Attorney and Town advisory boards and set a Public Forum for February 12, 2007. Due to the need for additional review, the study has not yet been reviewed by Town advisory boards, and it was not feasible to hold the Public Forum on this date. The attached resolution would set a new Public Forum date for April 11, 2007.


In 2003, the Town received a $200,000, five-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to promote active living through programming and physical design. Part of the grant proposal included a study of pedestrian safety issues along the NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Corridor. The Council held a Public Forum on November 20, 2006, to receive comments.

In August 2004, the Highway Safety Research Center prepared a study of the NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Corridor from I-40 to the intersection of North Street. The study assessed pedestrian barriers and other factors that may limit walking and bicycling along NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Corridor and suggested possible solutions. The study included “existing pedestrian, bicycle, and transit patterns, identification of critical safety and access problems, and the development of potential countermeasures (treatments) for improving pedestrian and bicycle safety and access and encouraging more walking and bicycling along the corridor.”

On November 22, 2004, after reviewing the NC 86/Airport Road Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Mobility Study, the Town Council directed the Town Manager to begin an implementation study along the NC 86/MLK Jr. Boulevard Corridor based on the recommendations of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Study.


In May 2006, the Town contracted with Lappas and Havener, PA, Landscape Architects to prepare an implementation plan for the NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd corridor. In response to concerns about pedestrian safety, as a result of several fatal accidents in the community, the scope of the study was expanded to include 15 additional sites around Chapel Hill identified as having pedestrian safety issues.

On September 26, 2006, a Community Forum was held on the NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Corridor Evaluation Draft Study to receive comments from citizens.

The Draft Study has been reviewed by Town staff from Planning, Public Works and Engineering. Proposals for pedestrian improvements at 15 additional locations have also been reviewed by staff.

The report includes recommendations for improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities, including:

         Bicycle lanes and sidewalks;

         Mid-block crossings with pedestrian refuge islands;

         Improved transit stop facilities;

         Bus pull-outs;

         Reduced turning radii at intersections;

         Improved lighting at intersections;

         High visibility crosswalks at key locations;

         Landscaping and buffering;

         Pedestrian countdown signals at key locations; and

         Construction of ADA-compliant curb ramps.

next steps

We recommend that the draft study be provided to Town advisory boards and committees for review during the month of March. We also recommend that Town Council schedule a public forum for April 11, 2007, to receive comment. A representative from Lappas and Havener will be available to make a presentation at the public forum. After receiving comments, staff will prepare final recommendations for the Council’s consideration and approval on May 7, 2007.

After final adoption by the Town Council, staff will begin implementation of the recommended pedestrian safety improvements. The Town has secured $250,000 from the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization for improvements to NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.


We recommend that the Town Council refer the NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Corridor Evaluation Draft Study to the Town Manager, Town Attorney and the Town advisory boards and commissions for comment and schedule a Public Forum for April 11, 2007. [See attached resolution 2007-02-26/R-6]


  1. NC 86/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Corridor/Town Wide Pedestrian Safety Evaluation Draft Study [19MB pdf] (begin new page 1).