NC neighboring towns growing pains include parking headaches: 'Always been trouble'

Cindy Bae Image
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Chapel Hill, Carrboro growth brings parking problems
Carrboro and Chapel Hill are less than 10 minutes apart and dealing with the same growing pains--traffic and parking.

ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are challenges when it comes to growth and for towns such as Carrboro and Chapel Hill, some of the growing pains include parking.

"Looks like I'm gonna be stuck here," Brandie Howie said on Tuesday.

Howie was trapped in a parking spot on Franklin Street, where others typically have a difficult time finding.

"We walk a lot, but let's say if we have friends that live in South campus, we have to pick them up because it's just to walk here, it's a pain," Suhas Gandra said. "You have to rely on the modes of transportation because of the lack of proper parking."

While UNC students like Gandra are in support of the downtown parking deck that's being built on East Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill mainstays such as Sutton's Drug Store have concerns about how it'll impact foot traffic in the future.

"Parking has always been a trouble, especially for the business side ... or just anybody coming to visit," Clay Pinney said. "The parking has actually been reduced. There's more decks, but less street parking. They put in more bike lanes and stuff, which do help some people. But as actual Main Street, it doesn't seem to help."

The Chapel Hill Town Council is considering approving another $3 million for the Rosemary Street parking deck project, which would bring the total cost to $51 million. The Town Council is scheduled to discuss the issue on Wednesday.

"That road's been shut down for a while, which is kind of sucks, but I'm excited for it," UNC student Tyler Turecky said.

The parking problem comes as neighboring towns such as Carrboro are also trying to handle the growth by considering paid parking, which the town's economic development department said could impact the downtown district.

"Unintended consequences of parking enforcement may include shoppers spending less time in the downtown district and, therefore, spending less money in this district," according to the town's public parking update.

On the other hand, one benefit would be more parking spots available due to the higher turn-over or the lack of downtown visitation.

The Carrboro Town Council will discuss the issue on Tuesday at 7 p.m. during their regular meeting.

"It's going to drive people away," Tracy Francis, who commutes to Carrboro, said. "Carrboro is a really walkable town, it's one reason why we all love it out here."