The most significant changes in the transportation elements contained in the 2001 Campus Master Plan are the provision of parking, and to a lesser degree, planned road improvements. Promoting and encouraging the use of alternatives to driving alone was strongly recommended in the 2001 Plan, and continues to be a necessary focus (particularly park-and-ride and transit). Since 2001 there have been major improvements and successes in these areas: riding Chapel Hill Transit is free to all users and ridership has increased by over sixty percent, and the amount of park-and-ride spaces has doubled to close to 4,000 and use has increased by over ninety percent.

The earlier 2001 Plan identified sixteen potential sites for future structured parking, including levels of parking beneath buildings or underground decks, to compensate for displaced surface parking (estimated in excess of 5,000 spaces) and provide for growth. The new decks had the potential to add approximately 10,000 spaces, or a net increase on Main Campus of about 4,000 spaces. Since 2001, four parking decks have been completed (Rams Head, Cobb-Joyner, Jackson Circle, and Global Education). These four decks have a total of 2,124 spaces. The Update still includes sixteen sites for parking structures (including the ones completed since 2001). However, there have been some changes in the proposed locations (the number of spaces in some locations also has changed):

  • Two underground decks proposed as part of Arts Common and the redevelopment of the Venable Hall site have been removed from the plans as a result of more detailed design for these sites.
  • An expansion of the Craige deck is now included, by adding several levels to the existing facility.
  • A deck shown directly south of the Kenan-Flagler School of Business has been removed from the plan.
  • A deck is now included for a portion of the Skipper Bowles Drive parking lot.
  • A small deck proposed for the lot on the north side of Skipper Bowles Drive opposite the Dean Smith Center has been removed from the plan, and instead a low deck is now shown on the tennis courts adjacent to this lot with the courts replaced on the roof.

The Update maintains the net increase of about 4,000 spaces that was provided in the 2001 Plan. Since 2001, experience has shown that the number of parking spaces projected for a site in the Master Plan is not always achievable when more detailed site planning occurs. To compensate for the expected discrepancy, the Update identifies potential for more spaces than will actually be built.

Structured Parking

Existing

Opening Soon

In Development Plan

Potential Sites (Previously Considered)

Potential Sites (Not Previously Considered)

South Access Road

The 2001 Plan included a new access road from Fordham Boulevard to East Drive. The primary goals for the road are to provide additional access from Fordham Boulevard and divert traffic from Manning Drive. While the road is shown in the Update in a somewhat different configuration, it is still needed for the following reasons:

  • Traffic on Manning Drive is projected to increase in the future as a result of hospital growth and additional parking decks in that area.
  • The level of pedestrian activity on, and particularly the number of pedestrians crossing, Manning Drive is increasing. Many of these are students in the residence halls around the Ridge Road intersection. Reducing traffic on Manning Drive would improve pedestrian safety and the general pedestrian environment.
  • There is significant congestion at the Manning Drive/Fordham Boulevard intersection in the afternoon peak period. Traffic leaving the campus at this time and queuing to turn left onto Fordham Boulevard typically backs up past Skipper Bowles Drive. In addition to increases in traffic on Manning Drive, traffic also is projected to increase on Fordham Boulevard, with no capacity improvements planned.
  • The Update continues to include new buildings along and south of Mason Farm Road. These will benefit from direct access from Fordham Boulevard.

The 2001 Plan showed a new divided four-lane road approximately paralleling and to the north of Mason Farm Road. This resulted in a total of six lanes of pavement. While this original concept is still viable, the following concept is more sustainable and could be constructed mostly on University property by:

  • Building a single, four-lane divided boulevard by moving existing Mason Farm Road slightly to the north, using these two realigned lanes for eastbound movement, and adding two lanes on the north side of the two realigned lanes, separated from Mason Farm Road by a wide landscaped median, for westbound travel.
  • Installing sidewalks and planting strips on both sides of the boulevard. On the south (neighborhood) side, these would partially be located in the path vacated by the existing Mason Farm Road, i.e., part of the existing roadbed will be redeveloped as a vegetative buffer, planting strip and sidewalk.

Mason Farm Road Alignment Construction

Proposed Mason Farm Road Alignment – At 1400 Mason Farm Road (Just East of Oteys Road)
Proposed Mason Farm Road Alignment – At 1306 Mason Farm Road (Just West of Oteys Road)

Most new road construction would be on the north side of existing Mason Farm Road. In addition to allowing more area for vegetation than the six-lane option, this option also retains more buffer between the road and the new student housing.

Bell Tower Connector

The 2001 Plan included a new road connection from a proposed parking deck on what is now the Bell Tower surface lot to Manning Drive. More detailed studies for the Bell Tower site have resulted in a smaller deck being proposed, avoiding the need for a second access connection (which was intended to supplement the existing access from South Road).

Effective transit services, at both the local and regional levels, are critical to the functioning of Main Campus given the constraints of the road system and parking limitations. The parking plan developed for the 2001 Plan assumed that fixed guideway transit (rail or bus) would enter the campus from Durham or Research Triangle Park, and connect to other local transit services. The transit corridor was dedicated for this purpose. Regional transit has since suffered a setback with the loss of federal funding for the initial rail line segment between Durham and Raleigh, but the corridor is being retained as new options for improved regional transit are explored. The University will continue to support initiatives for more and enhanced transit, as it helps reduce parking needs, removes traffic from the campus streets, and provides mobility options for the campus population.

The Update continues to preserve a corridor for rail or bus rapid transit. The corridor starts at Fordham Boulevard just east of Mason Farm Road and terminates in the area of the Hospitals.

Bike Racks
Pedestrian in the Snow