Pedestrian safety on MLK Boulevard to increase

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Chapel Hill is working to boost pedestrian safety along MLK Boulevard after officials accidents have increased since 2016. (WTVD)

Chapel Hill is working to boost pedestrian safety along MLK Boulevard after officials said accidents have increased since 2016.

UNC junior Montana Gramer said she frequently walks to catch her bus and that requires crossing the street using a pedestrian median.

"It's kind of a pain in the butt," she said.

However, Gramer said the island makes her feel safer.

"It helps to have to beeping lights and it helps to be able to see traffic stop versus free ball it across the street, she said."

Very soon, Gramer and many others who use these crosswalks will have more options on where they can cross because the boulevard is getting an upgrade.

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Two new pedestrian medians are under construction along a four-mile stretch of road near the intersections of Estes Drive and Airport Drive.

Chapel Hill resident Daniel Hickerson said he relies on his own two feet to get around, so he thinks the additions are a necessary upgrade.

"It is hard to cross, so I think it's good to put that median up," pedestrian Daniel Hickerson said.

Gramer, however, is torn.

"I don't know, it's like a win-lose situation because it's going to cause more traffic, but it also helps the pedestrians out," Gramer argued.

Helping pedestrians and improving traffic is what led neighbors to demand the improvements.

Total crash statistics along MLK show that accidents have jumped 10 percent since 2015.

In 2016, voters approved $170,000 in funds for this project and a total of $16 million in bonds for other safety roadway and greenway projects, an effort the town hopes will improve overall traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

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