Main Street and the Carrboro Music Festival

Viva la Venus

Viva la Venus at the 2012 Carrboro Music Festival. (Photo: Damon Seils)

Update below.

The 2013 Carrboro Music Festival is coming up at the end of September. If you’ve attended the music festival in previous years, you probably remember the tangle of cars, cyclists, and pedestrians that formed as people made their way through downtown during the peak hours of the event.

This year, what if we turn the music festival into another “open streets” event? Below is a message I sent to my fellow board members today.

Hi, everyone.

I want to make a proposal regarding the Carrboro Music Festival.

During last year’s music festival, E Main Street was clogged with cars—and full of people trying to make their way around cars. Traffic was bumper to bumper for a substantial period that afternoon.

I propose that we seek approval from NCDOT to close E Main Street to vehicular traffic between Greensboro and Rosemary Streets during this year’s music festival (on Sunday only). This closing would be in addition to the closing of E Weaver Street.

Jeff Brubaker [the town's transportation planner] reminded me that the idea would need to start with staff-level conversations. So, I would like to ask that conversations begin among staff to determine whether the closing would be feasible. The board would need to hear from staff soon to allow for a conversation with NCDOT and to allow sufficient time for planning.

Drivers attending the music festival would be able to park in the new parking deck (I assume), the other public parking lots downtown, and the park-and-ride lots. As in previous years, drivers not attending the music festival will be able to avoid downtown via Merritt Mill Road, Highway 54, Estes Drive Extension, etc.

Other areas in and near downtown would remain accessible. The Lloyd-Broad neighborhood would be accessible via Sunset Drive. Businesses on the 100 block of E Main Street would be accessible via Greensboro and Roberson Streets. Roberson Place and Maple Avenue would be accessible via Carr Street. Carr Mill plus the residences and businesses on the west side of downtown would be available via Greensboro Street, W Main Street, W Weaver Street, etc.

Closing this part of Main Street would make the music festival even more enjoyable for attendees. Also, considering how traffic flow through downtown was impaired last year, I believe this closing would not create much more inconvenience for drivers. If it’s too late for us to achieve it this year, perhaps we can consider it for next year.

Please share your thoughts.

Thanks,

Damon

Update: September 27, 2013

Town staff and volunteers will collect information during this weekend’s music festival about shuttle ridership, parking, and vehicular traffic.

You all have provided important feedback about the idea of closing E Main Street during some or all of next year’s festival. Issues include early conversations with NCDOT, early notification of business owners and managers (including finding ways for them to take advantage of the opportunities presented by having a downtown pedestrian mall), access for persons with impaired mobility, access for musicians, access for the Chapel Hill Transit shuttle, Fire-Rescue and Police protocols, and costs.

This information will important for us to have in planning next year’s event.