Growing up in Chapel hill as the son of Dr. Ron Hyatt in the 1970’s and 1980’s, i learned to love the University of North Carolina, and to loathe NC highway 54. It was a slow, curvy, crowded two-lane road to and from Durham then.
Now it’s 2016, and NC 54 is still largely a slow, curvy, crowded, two-lane road to and from Durham.
The population explosion between the two municipalities has made it only worse, and I-40, which parallels much of 54, does little to help. In fact, when there’s an accident on 40 between Chapel Hill and Durham, using 54 as an alternative is useless. It easily can take over an hour just going eight miles because 54 is totally inadequate to handle the traffic.
It boggles my mind that two of the top fifteen most populated cities in North Carolina are connected by a mere two-lane state road. To make it worse, Durham keeps adding more development off it, making a drive to Research Triangle Park no day in the park at any time. I know that widening 54 is a low priority for NCDOT leaders, but i urge them to try driving on it during an accident to understand why a change is needed now. They’ll see when that occurs, your choices to get between Durham and Chapel Hill are only a crowded 54 and forty, or fight.
— Wesley Hyatt
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