Local News

Traffic Calming Project Slows Down Chapel Hill Speeders

Posted January 10, 2006 7:11 a.m. EST

— Chapel Hill is putting the brakes on speeders. Neighbors are rallying, and the town is listening. Now city leaders are making it more challenging to get around.

Complaints came pouring into Town Hall about traffic problems in residential neighborhoods. People were getting tired of drivers speeding and cutting through quiet two-lane streets.

"We are trying to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods," said traffic engineer Kumar Neppalli.

Traffic calming is supposed to do just that. On a half-mile run down Pinehurst Drive, a traffic circle slows, but does not stop, traffic. A raised median slows cars with narrower lanes. Also, there are all types of speed bumps.

A speed table is not the speed bump most people are used to seeing period It's long and flat, and it slows the traffic but keeps cars moving. They are now all over neighborhoods in Chapel Hill.

"The truth is, we're always going over the speed limit, so it actually is a good thing and it slows you down," said driver John Gadigian.

When Chapel Hill set aside $600,000 in bond money to pursue traffic calming, many neighborhoods pushed for it and got what they asked for. Now, some say the program is a bump in the road. The residents said traffic calming doesn't really slow the flow.

"I watch them all the time," said homeowner Joe Laton. "They'll slow down for these, then they'll speed up once they get past it. I think to accomplish what the people want to do, it really doesn't do a very good job."

Town engineers say they have dozens of positive comments for every negative reaction. Traffic calming will continue.

Two-thirds of homeowners must approve the speed calming measures before the town will consider a request. Twenty neighborhoods want a piece of the $150,000 left in the town's traffic calming fund.