Orange County

Chapel Hill bus stop among nation’s ‘sorriest.’ What can be done about it?

A passenger waits for a bus on the side of the road at this bus stop in Chapel Hill which is in the running for StreetBlog.org’s title of “America’s Sorriest Bus Stop.”
A passenger waits for a bus on the side of the road at this bus stop in Chapel Hill which is in the running for StreetBlog.org’s title of “America’s Sorriest Bus Stop.”

A bus stop in Chapel Hill was in the running for “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” and Chapel Hill Transit knows about it.

In fact, they’ve known about it for years, according to director Brian Litchfield. But without state intervention, there’s not a lot Chapel Hill Transit can do, he said.

The bus stop on N.C. 54 Bypass at Laurel Ridge Apartments, along with its paired stop across the highway at Kingswood Apartments, need changes, Litchfield said.

“We believe that improvements should be made here and around similar bus stops along highways,” Litchfield said. “We have received concerns about those bus stops.”

One of these bus stops was recently nominated for an online tournament by StreetsBlogUSA and reached the Final Four. It was knocked out last week by a bus stop in Seattle that drops riders off between a high-speed road and an active railroad crossing.

What stood out about the nominated Chapel Hill bus stop was its location on a busy highway, according to a commenter who frequently uses the bus stop.

“There is NO possible way to get to a crosswalk/traffic light,” Kenny Brooks told StreetBlogs USA. “[It] puts you at the mercy of a curve and a back exit for one of the complexes making it hard to see traffic from one direction.”

Riders in Chapel Hill have to cross multiple lanes of traffic or make the trek down and back up the ramps to catch the bus going their direction.

Litchfield said Chapel Hill Transit has worked for years to get the N.C. Department of Transportation to make improvements. When work on that section of highway was completed in the 1990s, it didn’t include transit, pedestrian or bicycle access. It takes a formal analysis of traffic and usage by DOT before any changes can be made there. Litchfield said a request has been made to seek that analysis and improvements.

Chapel Hill Transit was able to make bus stop improvements in other parts of town after going through a similar process. Most notably, several bus stops on Martin Luther King Boulevard north of downtown now have pedestrian islands and improved sidewalks and shelters.

“We look forward to continuing these efforts to improve more bus stops throughout our service area,” Litchfield said.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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