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UNC studies Carrboro rail siding

by Kirk Ross
Staff Writer

After recently closing the deal for an 8 1/2-acre parcel off Merritt Mill Road on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro border, university officials OK’ed plans to start studying the site for a new rail siding.

At its meeting last week, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees approved a recommendation to enlist Raleigh design firm Moffatt & Nichol to study the site, most of which is in Carrboro.

Bruce Runberg, vice chancellor of Facilities Planning and Construction, said Wednesday that the firm will be asked to do a site analysis on the parcel, which is located at 130 Merritt Mill Rd. and situated behind Hunt Electric at the corner of Cameron Avenue and Merritt Mill Road and south of the Ready Mixed Concrete plant.

Runberg said he expects the preliminary study of how to use the property to take about six months. One key goal, he said, is to develop a rail spur that will allow greater ease in shifting coal and limestone rail cars for the university’s nearby co-generation plant. Runberg said given the size of the parcel, there could be additional uses.

“Eight and a half acres is a fair amount of property,” he said, adding that the process of developing a plan will also include discussions with the town of Carrboro and residents of adjacent neighborhoods.

UNC system officials approved the purchase of the property in March for $3.5 million. Approximately one acre of the parcel is in Chapel Hill and the remaining 7.5 acres are in Carrboro.

In other action last week, the board of trustees also approved plans for an extensive addition to Kenan Stadium and rejected a preliminary design for the Innovations Center planned as the first building on the school’s Carolina North property.

Several trustees said they were unimpressed with the design of the building, which is slated to be located at a key entrance to the Carolina North project on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the former Municipal Drive.

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