Painting of bike lanes on West Franklin Street signals End of project

The months-long repaving project on West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is nearing completion, city officials say, with the final stages of adding paint expected to take place this week.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation repaves and re-stripes downtown Chapel Hill Street, which is also East Main Street in Carrboro, every ten years. The project began in earnest in April, while road resurfacing took place in July.

Among the biggest changes for Chapel Hill and Carrboro are the addition of dedicated bike lanes. An alert from the city of Chapel Hill on Thursday said final touches on the updates include painting bike lanes green to help differentiate them from parking spots and vehicle traffic lanes. In order to accomplish the task, some lanes and parking lots along West Franklin Street will be closed starting Monday.

“Our hopes for cycle lanes are increased safety for all road users by providing safe places for cyclists, reduced crossing distances for pedestrians at intersections and generally lower travel speeds for vehicles, which promotes safety for all,” said Sarah Poulton, senior project manager. Chapelboro said. “We’ll be monitoring how the new design works for months to see if there are any opportunities to make additional improvements.”

An example of cycle lanes painted green, as seen in the redevelopment of Glen Lennox near Fordham Boulevard. (Photo via Glen Lennox.)

The sections of the West Franklin Street bike paths are different from other bike paths in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The style is called “curbside” lanes, which require cyclists to ride between the sidewalk and parked cars.

Chapel Hill Transportation Planning Officer Bergen Watterson told Chapelboro that the North Carolina Department of Transportation initially did not commit to painting the lanes as sidewalks. While state officials were concerned about sightlines for vehicles leaving the variety of driveways and businesses along the road, she said compromises were made to allow for styling.

City staff, along with our engineering consultant, were able to come up with a design that moved parking far enough away from driveways and intersections to provide visibility, but not to remove all parking,” Watterson said. “NCDOT was able to approve this design, and we will be adding green paint and flexible delineators next week to further improve visibility for cyclists and suitable parking spots.”

These delineators are more permanent versions of the bollards installed by Chapel Hill in 2020 – as the city expanded its sidewalks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow for more outdoor walking and dining space. Poulton said that while the bollards won’t go the full length of West Franklin Street on both sides, they will go down “most of the hallway.”

They are particularly important in areas where there is no parking between moving vehicles and the cycle path,” added the senior project manager.

Work to complete the bike lanes and install the bollards is expected to last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day until the project is complete, according to the City of Chapel Hill. To find the final plans for the bike lanes, painting, and drawings of West Franklin Street, visit the project’s webpage.

Photo via City of Chapel Hill.


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