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The Future of 15-501

The Future of 15-501

*The following are remarks delivered on 10/14/20 by The Chamber's Katie Loovis to the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO on the US 15-501 corridor study on behalf of our Government Affairs Committee. Read the joint letter submitted together with the Durham Chamber and the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) on 10/13/20.  

Good Morning!


I am Katie Loovis, Vice President of External Affairs at The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro.


It is my pleasure to share with you this morning feedback from our Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, which is a 25-member volunteer advisory board made up of diverse business leaders (and several engineers!), who all help guide our chamber’s policy positions.


Two weeks ago, during our monthly committee meeting, we spent time together (via zoom of course!) reviewing your study and discussing our collective feedback.


…Our feedback is captured in a joint letter with RTA and the Durham Chamber submitted yesterday to your professional staff, Andy Henry, who will forward it to you tomorrow when public comments conclude.


By the way, Mr. Henry has been very accessible and a knowledgeable and pleasant person to work with.  


As far as comments from our Chamber, first and foremost, we applaud the work of your MPO on this 15-501 corridor study.


We are comfortable offering our support with only some questions and comments, which we hope will be received in the spirt they are intended – to showcase a few additional opportunities that could strengthen the already strong design.


My comments on behalf of our Chamber will be limited to Segment 1 and I have five quick items:

1) First, addressing any potential negative impacts on local businesses.  We ask that you consider the service road for Dobbins Drive and East Franklin Street. This service road appears, in the plan, to be closed. This could be a hardship for those business owners, customers, and residents who will need to double-back for access. We ask: is retaining the frontage road access an option?

2) Second, ensuring smooth and efficient connections between municipalities. We ask that you consider maintaining the southbound access to 15-501 from Fordham Blvd. Also, how about adding a grade separated intersection at Eastown Drive and Fordham? 

3) Third – prioritizing transit. We suggest that you operate the priority bus lane as a “RED” transit lane that allows for right turns, emergency response, and driveway access.

4) Fourth, improving overall mobility. Would you consider incorporating a multi-use path along the new “Collector Road Bridge?”

5) Fifth, making the plan a living working document. We recommend – if you are not already doing so – to update the base maps to reflect the latest developments and align with the Chapel Hill Future Land Use Map (FLUM), which is nearly finalized. This might help ensure plans mitigate any potential traffic bottlenecks at places like the future Wegmans’ site.  

Thank you!

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