Anyone want to remind me what the process was in approving the new configuration at the Fordham/Omni/Erwin Road intersection? Did the Town have anything to say about it or was it entirely NC DOT?



NCDOT held public hearings where they had both models and their animation models, etc. I believe these were held in the summer of 2003. The Town certainly had opportunities to weigh in and I believe they did at several Council meetings. I distincly remember Council member Harrison asking that there be creation of a route and median refuge for pedestrians and cyclists.

Although one might argue that the computer simulations are unrealistic, this type of roundabout has apparently been used successfully in Texas (hence the other name that I have heard it referred by, "Texas roundabout"). There will be retiming of the lights when the changeover is made and when NCDOT first presented this plan they claimed that the wait times would actually be shorter than they are now. I think we're all waiting anxiously to see if this works but we also need to keep in mind that even NCDOT admitted that this fix would only work for about 5-7 years before we had gridlock all over again.

I remember reviewing the plans for this project when I was on the CH Transportation Board in the 1990's and I thought it looked like a terrible and far-fetched idea then.

I hear it's open now. Anyone driven through the "Super Street" yet?

There was some confusion in the first days of this new configuration. Things have settled down somewhat now. I like the concept, actually. Drivers wanting to cross 15-501 or turn left onto 15-501 are inconvenienced so that through traffic on 15-501 can keep moving.

But I wonder if the DOT properly sized the amount of traffic coming from Chapel Hill and turning left on Erwin? Two lanes of traffic have to make a tight U-turn, and just about everyone will want to get into the right lane to take a right on Erwin. Also, a lot of traffic turns left from Erwin onto 15-501 toward I-40 and Durham. That requires a right, quick lane change across all lanes, and then a u-turn.

In both cases, I think many people will decide to use Sage to avoid these maneuvers. I recall a DOT spokesperson saying that this super street would work so well, everyone would want the DOT to do the same thing at Sage and 15-501. Maybe he meant that the net effect of this project would be to shift traffic congestion there.

Granted my memory is not great, but I do recall the "super street" being planned as roughly a hexagon, so that drivers would have to travel counter-clockwise around a few points before heading off to their destination. Instead it is simply a pair of U-turns requiring quick lane changes!

This seems inconvenient at best, and at worst it's an accident-prone way to design an intersection. It's even worse than I had pictured it.

The layout of the Superstreet is exactly as it was shown to the Town Council many moons ago. Driving by during construction I thought it seemed a little smaller and tighter than contemplated back then. But in using it yesterday to make the turn from 15-501 to Europa I found that was at least partly an optical illusion. The turn and its lanes were actually quite large once you get into the chute. I haven't yet made the Erwin turn and so have no comment on that. Maybe in a week or so.


I was sitting in those same meetings with Ray back then. Didn't the name have some Michigan reference when first proposed? Seems about as odd as it gets, but there wasn't room for a cloverleaf. Not a lot of stuff like it in NC.

Every time I hear the name I think of that Rick James song.
It's a SuperStreet SuperStreet it's super streety

Too bad there was no room for a nice wide loop on the Durham end like the one on the Chapel Hill end. A lot more traffic turns left onto Erwin than left onto Europa. But I think we'll adapt, and there is always Sage, folks.
I'm willing to give this new intersection(s) a real try. But last night I felt that having two lanes turn left at that sharp of an angle will result in collisions. Big trucks and others will have a hard time staying in there lanes. Have you ever turned left onto Pittsboro St. from W. Cameron? The super street is the same thing but a much tighter turn.

I use this intersection every day to go to my work from my home in Timberlyne to the Europa Center. The trip TO work seems fine--a few confused motorists get stuck in the left lane when they need to be in the right lane to turn from 15-501 to Europa. Evening experience has been a bit different--it is a very tight U-Turn in the direction from Europa to 15-501 to Erwin. I've seen several near collisions and I saw a school bus have a really hard time making that turn. I have no idea what a large truck will do--I guess it will use both lanes and the rest of us will just have to get the hell out of the way.

My commute is a bit longer-- and a little more inconvenient---but it appears that it has vastly improved "through" traffic on 15-501.

To get from the N. Estes area to Duke, we've always had the choice of (1) going up to Whitfield and then across to Erwin, (2) taking 15-501 all the way, or (3) splitting the difference and taking Franklin to Erwin.

In the early 1990s, the (then) Airport Rd. route was preferred because there were few lights from Estes to Whitfield, while 15-501 could jam up. Then they widened Airport/King and have been adding lights ever since, so it now takes much more time than it did when it was just a "piddly" 2-lane road. So we became temporary converts to the 15-501 route until New Hope Commons (and now the rest of the commercial build-up there) made that an obstacle course of traffic lights. So back to turning left from 15-501 onto Erwin.

But as we watched the SuperStreet construction take shape and noted the double lanes intended to carry U-turning traffic back to Erwin, that was when I began to question whether it might not get a bit hairy -- on a dark, rainy evening with extra traffic coming from Fordham or on a busy morning with -- yes -- school buses trying to negotiate the sharp turn. That extra arc carved into the berm just didn't look like it would be enough. Still doesn't.

So we guessed that the double-lane left turn onto Sage and then to Erwin (option #4 -- once upon a time, the lengthiest option) would probably become the alternate of choice. But what will the subsequent right turn from Sage onto Erwin start to look like with the overflow of traffic avoiding the SuperU-Turn? Also, there are some strange lane markings between the Lowe's and Erwin.

Somehow I doubt that either the engineers or Council Members were at all concerned with the Erwin-Sage intersection when they contemplated this elongated bow-tie configuration. Not even sure they could have been expected to, unless any were frequent travelers trying to go from Chapel Hill to Duke/Durham themselves. But still . . .

(And no partisan comments about why anyone in Chapel Hill would want to be going to Duke.....)

I drove through the Superstreet area twice over the weekend, going east and then west on 15-501. While I recognize that it is unfinished, unless some lighting is added, it will be an absolute deathtrap for pedestrians and cyclists after dark.

Does anyone know if there is any lighting anticipated to be added by the end of the construction process?




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