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Low Gas Prices Fueling High Thanksgiving Traffic

Reporting by Blake Hodge.

Thanksgiving week is here, and that means many residents of the Tar Heel state are visiting family. AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright says you will have quite a bit of company on North Carolina’s thoroughfares over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“There will be about 1.2 million travelers on the road in North Carolina,” Wright says. “That’s an increase of about 48,000 from last year. Travelers that will be traveling 50 miles or more from home, 90% of those will be on the road.”

Wright says prices at the gas pump continuing to drop has allowed more residents to travel the highways visiting family.

“It’s impressive,” she says. “Look back to Labor Day: in fact we’re down $0.57 than we were paying from Labor Day. So motorists have a lot more money in their wallets to spend during this holiday season.”

Travelers making their way across North Carolina will see the highest gas prices in Asheville, at $2.92 per gallon. The Charlotte-Gastonia area, however, has the lowest prices in the state, at $2.73 per gallon. If you are travelling out of the state, many of North Carolina’s neighbors have prices very similar, in some cases even slightly lower, than the Tar Heel state.

Wright adds that the Thanksgiving period technically runs from Wednesday through Sunday. “The day before Thanksgiving, that Wednesday, is the worst traffic day of the year,” she says. “If you don’t have to leave on Wednesday, try and leave before Wednesday. If you do have to leave on Wednesday, try and leave before 2 PM, or – if you can afford to stay a little bit later at home – wait until after 7 PM.”

The congestion on the roadways can turn the highways deadly, as 12 people died last year over the Thanksgiving period in crashes on North Carolina Highways.

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/low-gas-prices-fueling-high-thanksgiving-traffic/

Two Hit By Car Thurs Night On Franklin St

Another incident involving a vehicle striking a pedestrian – two pedestrians, in this case – occurred late Thursday night in downtown Chapel Hill.

According to Chapel Hill police, the incident took place on West Franklin Street at about 11 p.m. Two pedestrians, one male and one female, were struck by a vehicle in the crosswalk by SunTrust Bank.

The driver remained on scene, and both pedestrians were transported to UNC Hospitals with minor injuries.

The full statement from Chapel Hill Police is below:

“On Thursday at approximately 11 p.m., the Chapel Hill Police Department responded to a reported traffic accident involving two pedestrians on W. Franklin St. Upon officers arrival they found a male and female that had reportedly been struck by a vehicle while in the crosswalk in front of SunTrust Bank.  Both the male and female were transported to UNC Hospital with what appeared to be only minor injuries. Both driver and vehicle were still on scene. The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be forthcoming.”

The Town of Chapel Hill has stepped up its efforts to promote bike and pedestrian safety this month – including targeted enforcement and electronic signs in high-traffic areas. Read more about it here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/two-hit-car-thurs-night-franklin-st/

Cyclist Killed Friday Was Durham Resident, 57

Chapel Hill Police have announced the identity of the cyclist who was killed in a vehicle collision last Friday: Pamela Lane, 57, of Durham.

The accident took place at 9:39 on Friday morning, near the intersection of MLK and Hillsborough. Lane was riding her bike on the sidewalk of MLK when she was struck by a vehicle that was exiting the parking lot of a gas station near that intersection. Lane was transported to the emergency room at UNC Hospitals, but died later of her injuries.

Chapel Hill Police are still investigating the accident. No charges have been filed so far.

The full statement from Chapel Hill Police:

On Friday, October 3rd at approximately 9:39 AM, the Chapel Hill Police Department responded to a report of a traffic collision involving a motor vehicle and a cyclist. The collision occurred on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, just north of the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Hillsborough Street.
 
The cyclist was transported to UNC Emergency Department and later died from injuries resulting from the collision.  The cyclist has been identified as Pamela Lane (57) of Coggins Mine Ct. in Durham.
 
Investigators believe that Ms. Lane was traveling southbound on the eastern sidewalk of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and the motor vehicle was exiting the parking lot of the gas station at the Hillsborough St. intersection.  The investigation into the collision is on-going and no charges have been filed at this time.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/cyclist-killed-friday-durham-resident-57/

Pedestrian Struck In Carrboro

3:39 p.m. update: Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack said in a release that the investigation was concluded without any charges filed against the driver. The identity of the victim was still not being released, and his condition was unknown.

Story originally posted August 29, 2014, 10:22 a.m.

A pedestrian was sent to the hospital with possible life-threatening injuries Thursday night after being struck by a vehicle on Jones Ferry Road near Davie Road.

“The driver was going the posted speed limit and was driving appropriately,” says Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack. “At this point, we don’t have any charges.”

The incident took place at around 11:20 p.m. Thursday.

As of Friday morning, Cpt. Atack says the condition of the pedestrian was unknown.

“We didn’t have exact information on the scene of the identity of the victim,” Cpt Atack says. “We’re reasonably confident that at this point we have the person identified, but we’re still trying to confirm that.”

Cpt. Atack says if anyone has additional information about the incident, please call the Carrboro Police Department at 919-918-7397.

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/pedestrian-struck-carrboro/

Man Does Not Survive Jump From I-40 Overpass

photo 3

Update 3:30 p.m.: The Orange County Sheriff Department confirmed that at 12:15 p.m. a male subject was seen sitting on the side wall of the NC-86 overpass of I-40. A passing driver called 911. A passerby attempted to approach the man, but before that person could reach him, the man jumped.

He fell in the emergency lane of I-40 westbound, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s department, and did not survive the fall. Emergency services attempted to revive the individual, but were unsuccessful.

The Sheriff’s department reported no vehicles on I-40 struck the decedent. The man’s name has not been released, pending family notification.

Update 2:35 p.m.: NC Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Jeff Gordon told WCHL that state troopers only assisted in shutting down portions of the road and were not involved in the investigation. The Orange County Sheriff Department is investigating, according to Lieutenant Gordon. He said officials were responding to a “subject on the bridge.”

No one was available to speak in the Orange County Sheriff Office as of 2:45 p.m. Thursday, according to a receptionist.

Story originally posted August 14, 2014 at 1:53 p.m.

Police are investigating an incident that occurred around noon Thursday on I-40 at NC-86, exit 266.

Chapel Hill Police, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Orange County Sheriff, Orange County Emergency Services, and the New Hope Fire Department responded to the overpass of NC-86 and I-40 and shut down the right lane and shoulder of the interstate. The right lane of NC-86 was also shut down on the overpass. Traffic quickly backed up on I-40 WB to NC-54, exit 273.

photo 4A Chapel Hill Police officer standing on the overpass at the scene said the area was closed due to an active investigation, but could not give any additional details about the incident.

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/police-investigate-traffic-incident-40-wb-nc-86exit-266/

Late-Night Hit And Run Injures Five In CH

Chapel Hill Police are investigating a reported hit-and-run incident that injured five pedestrians on Fordham Boulevard in the early-morning hours on Saturday.

According to a statement from the CHPD, police responded at 2:30 a.m. to a report of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle near the intersection of Fordham Boulevard and Scarlett Drive. When they arrived, officers discovered that five individuals had actually been hit – all while they were dealing with the aftermath of another vehicle accident that had just occurred. All five were transferred to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the suspect vehicle may have fled on foot or may have been picked up by a passerby.

The investigation is still ongoing.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/late-night-hit-run-injures-five-ch/

Comics, Bridges, And Community Forums

ORANGE COUNTY – The DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro is gearing up for the annual North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, the largest comedy festival in the South. This year’s festival runs for 10 straight days from February 6-16, featuring standup, sketch comedy and improv at venues across Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Longtime comedy writer Bruce Vilanch will be among this year’s headliners.

For a complete schedule of shows, visit NCComedyArts.com.

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The next step in Hillsborough’s Riverwalk project has been postponed by a week: two 100-foot steel prefabricated bridges were scheduled to be delivered Thursday, but delivery has been delayed to February 13.

When the bridges are delivered, it will affect traffic on Churton Street downtown. Hillsborough police will direct traffic while the trucks complete their delivery.

When they’re installed, the bridges will cross the Eno River. Construction of Riverwalk’s mile-long Phase II began in October and is slated to be completed by fall, at a cost of $1.86 million.

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Orange County 4-H is holding a Community Forum on Thursday, February 6, from 6-8 p.m. at the Orange County Center on Revere Road in Hillsborough.

The forum is rescheduled from last week; it had to be postponed due to the snow.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/comics-bridges-community-forums/

Triangle Expressway Toll Increases 5% With New Year

TRIANGLE – Commuters using the Triangle Expressway will pay more in 2014 as the rates increased nearly five percent Wednesday to pay off the bond that helped build it.

The increase was scheduled to take place and isn’t a change in the plan. But, now commuters traveling on the road every day will pay an extra $67.60 per year.

The first phase of the project opened in December 2011; phase two opened in August 2012; the third phase opened December 2012.

With the discounted rate using an NC Quick Pass, the rate to travel the full length one way is $2.77 up from $2.64.

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/triangle-expressway-toll-increases-5-new-year/

AM Accident KOs Telephone Pole, Hundreds Lose Power

Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill Public Library director Susan Brown.

UPDATE: At around 11:00 a.m. Sunday, Duke Energy’s website reported (incorrectly) that the power outage was over. Chapel Hill Police, however, issued this statement: “Pike Electric mentioned that residents and businesses in the affected area…will be without power up until 9 PM.  They will have to shut down all power for a one hour time span in order to get everything back up and running.  It may be as late as midnight before power is restored to the entire affected area.”

UPDATE: Power was restored shortly before noon to (at least some) homes in the Colony Lake area, near the Sage/Fordham intersection.

UPDATE: Shortly after noon, a Duke Energy spokesperson told WCHL that power had been restored to many Duke customers, but about 350 were still affected. (Corroborating the earlier report from Chapel Hill Police, she said those customers were likely to remain without power until at least early evening.)

CHAPEL HILL – An early-morning single-car accident on Sunday brought down a telephone pole near the intersection of Ephesus Church Road and Legion Road, knocking out power to hundreds of Chapel Hillians.

The accident occurred shortly after 4:00 a.m. According to a statement from Chapel Hill Police, the driver actually ran into several telephone poles before coming to a stop.

122913 power outage pic 1

122913 power outage pic 2

All photos courtesy of Susan Brown.

Duke Energy initially reported more than 2,000 customers were without power. Homes in Briarcliff, Ridgefield, Colony Lake and other nearby neighborhoods remained without power for hours, as crews worked to restore service. Several stoplights were out along 15/501 between Elliott Road and Sage Road; Chapel Hill Police set up emergency signage at those intersections.

The driver of the vehicle – still not identified by CHPD – was not injured in the crash, but was arrested for driving while impaired. It’s not clear whether the accident was related in any way to Sunday morning’s heavy rain.

UPDATE: Crews are installing a new pole. Photo below, also courtesy Susan Brown:

122913 power outage pic 3

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/accident-kos-telephone-pole-hundreds-lose-power/

Lane Closures; Charity Calendars; Roller Derby!

Watch out for lane closures on and near campus on Wednesday: one lane of Pittsboro Street will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. near the intersection of S. Columbia Street and Manning Drive for waterline work, and the left lane of northbound S. Columbia Street will also be closed from 9 a.m. to noon for tree trimming. Town officials are warning drivers to be cautious in these areas.

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Would you like to see roller derby in Chapel Hill? If so, there’s an interest meeting on Tuesday, November 5, at 6:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Gym on Merritt Mill Road. Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation is holding the meeting; they’re thinking about launching a city-sponsored women’s roller derby league, provided there’s enough interest.

The idea for the league came from Colleen Carroll, who moved to Chapel Hill earlier this year. She says as far as she knows, Chapel Hill would be the first town to sponsor its own roller derby league.

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For the fourth straight year, Chapel Hill textile collage artist Elaine O’Neil will be selling limited-edition 2014 calendars featuring her original artwork to benefit the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.

They’re called the “Luv This Place 2014 N.C. Calendars,” highlighting twelve of North Carolina’s most famous and iconic places. You can purchase them through January at a variety of stores around town, including Flyleaf Books, Southern Season, and FRANK.

Elaine O’Neil is an award-winning collage artist. Since she started the calendar project, she’s raised $23,000 for the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/lane-closures-charity-calendars-roller-derby/