Were holding a celebratory parade parade, this Saturday, the 22nd, click for details!

On Tuesday morning, the town held a ribbon cutting that was long awaited by many: the opening of the Estes Drive Bike Pedestrian improvement project. It ended up taking longer than anyone expected, a fact acknowledged by all the speakers at the ceremony. Town Manager Chris Blue, started out by thanking the neighbors for their patience, and noting that one nearby resident would contact Blue daily (and sometimes more than once a day) asking for progress updates and when it would be done. That nearby resident turned out to be his mother, who lives nearby!

Chapel Hill Mayor Jess Anderson speaks at the podium of the Estes Drive Ribbon Cutting ceremony

The manager then called on Mayor Jess Anderson to talk about the project, and while I tried to edit this statement, it was so good, I ended up copying a good deal of it here:

As the mayor AND an Estes Drive neighbor, I am doubly excited to cut the ribbon on this amazing new project that will allow EVERYONE to walk, bike, and roll – in strollers, in wheelchairs, or on the bus – to and from so many places nearby and throughout town.

Cutting the ribbon this morning is the culmination of a vision for this area of Chapel Hill that was put in place many years ago to make travel safer and increase connectivity for area residents, school children, and others.

As a mom to two school-aged kiddos and two four-legged friends, I am excited by the fact that the multi-modal paths and bike lanes will make it safe to navigate between schools and the YMCA.

And, as someone who works on campus, I am looking forward to new safe and convenient options for getting to Franklin Street, the university, medical center, Southern Village, or North Chapel Hill via the bus instead of by car!

This is what Complete Community and Vision Zero are all about.

As is often the case with significant infrastructure projects like this, the project faced many challenges. Each and every time, our dedicated staff worked closely with partners to keep making forward progress and to communicate out those changes with all of us. Thanks to their persistence we are here today to celebrate. So, to our staff – “Thank you”.

Thank you as well to my fellow Estes Drive neighbors and everyone who works or visits this area for your patience in navigating the detours and other challenges we’ve faced. We know this has been difficult/ And I can’t tell you just how happy I was – for all of us – to learn that the road was re-opened to two-way traffic! I also appreciate all the neighbors who have led with humor and fun, putting up skeletons, betting us what week or month the project will be completed, keeping the final goal in mind.

And, while I have acknowledged the staff team overall, a special thanks to Mobility and Greenways Manager Bergen Watterson, whose leadership has been critical in getting this done.

Chapel Hill office of mobility and greenways head Bergen Watterson speaks at the podium of the Estes Drive Ribbon Cutting ceremony

Next up was Bergen Watterson, who leads the town’s best-named office (The Office of Mobility and Greenways, aka OMG). She thanked the residents for their patience and talked about the importance of the project in increasing the mobility along Estes drive and how she will be working with the town to continue this success throughout the town.

Finally, Phillips Middle School assistant principal Glenn Estacio added some levity to the event. He explained that staff at Phillips give each other humorous awards at the end of each school year. Estacio, in good humor, awarded the contractor an award for the ‘slowest project’ of the semester.

Mayor and some members of town council stand in front of the ribbon with the mayor holding giant scissors

Then the ribbon was cut. Present were the town manager, Chris Blue, Mayor Anderson and town council members Theordore Nollert, Amy Ryan, Paris Miller-Foushee, Melissa McCullough, Karen Stegman and Camille Berry.

John Rees lives in Chapel Hill. His day job is an enterprise architect for a big IT company. He was, until very recently, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission and former chair. He serves on...