Chapel Hill Prepares for National Championship Game
The Town of Chapel Hill would like to stress the importance of safety in celebrations on Franklin Street.
If the UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball team wins the NCAA National Championship Monday night, public safety departments from the Town and UNC-Chapel Hill, with the support of partners from surrounding areas, will shut down Franklin Street to regular traffic.
“We’re extremely lucky that no one was injured from the few bonfires that were set Saturday night,” said Chapel Hill Police Chief and Executive Director for Community Safety Chris Blue. “We’d hate for a night of joy and celebration to be ruined because of injury. We are all pulling for a national title in Chapel Hill, and when that happens, we want everyone to be able to return home safely.”
We would like to stress that bonfires on Franklin Street are prohibited. Town officials will limit combustible materials from entering the downtown area on Monday night. Illegal bonfires are extremely dangerous, and one false step could result in serious injuries. For information about the Town’s regulations about burning, visit townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/fire-department/fire-marshal/fire-pits.
The North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care has treated 79 people for burn injuries related to bonfires over the past four years. The average length of stay in the Burn Center for those victims was eight days. These celebrations put a concentrated number of people in a relatively confined area. One false step could result in a very serious injury. The best way to prevent an injury from a bonfire is to follow the Town’s regulations about burning.
The Chapel Hill Police Department has reached out to more than a dozen law enforcement agencies from around our region for assistance. There will be 250 police officers working Monday night, in addition to fire, EMS, transit, and public works crews.
A few Tar Heels have an important message for you, too. WATCH: youtu.be/w5JrUQNuYsY
There will be limited parking in downtown. There will also be no parking in the neighborhoods adjacent to downtown. Access to neighborhoods will be limited by barricades and police personnel at the roads leading into them. This will begin in the afternoon.
Vehicles parked on the following streets will be towed beginning at 7 p.m.:
- Franklin Street (from Raleigh to Mallette streets)
- Henderson Street (from East Franklin to East Rosemary streets)
- Columbia Street (from Franklin to Rosemary streets)
Vehicles that are illegally parked will be ticketed and towed, with a minimum recovery cost of $140 plus the cost of the ticket.
Where to Watch in Chapel Hill
UNC will host a viewing party on Monday at the Dean E. Smith Center, projecting the broadcast on a large projection screen and the Smith Center video walls. For information about the viewing party and other details (parking restrictions, street closures), visit move.unc.edu/events/final-four/.
Alcohol checkpoints will be in place, and DWI enforcement will take place throughout downtown.
Weapons, alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, paint, fireworks and explosives, combustible or flammable substances, animals, and coolers are prohibited downtown.
The Town of Chapel Hill will make every effort to keep people who are attending the event from parking in your neighborhood. Access to your neighborhood will be limited by barricades and police personnel leading into your neighborhood. This will begin early in the evening.
- Residents of the neighborhood will be able to drive in and out of the enclosed area. Tell the officer at the barricade where you live.
- Your guests will also be able to enter and leave. They will need to tell the officer at the barricade exactly where they are going.
- Illegally parked vehicles (even of residents, guests) will be ticketed and towed.
- Traffic will be congested and getting past the barricades may be a slow process.
A traffic diversion plan will be in effect and visitors to downtown should expect delays.
- Southbound traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be only permitted to turn left or right onto Rosemary Street
- Westbound traffic on East Franklin Street will be merged into one lane prior to the intersection of East Franklin Street at Raleigh Street
- Eastbound traffic on West Franklin Street will be merged into one lane prior to Mallette Street
- Northbound traffic on South Columbia Street will only be permitted to turn right or left onto Cameron Avenue
In the event of a UNC win, the decision to close downtown streets to vehicles will be based on crowd size and behavior. If streets are closed, no vehicular traffic will be allowed inside the closed area.
Closures may include the following:
- Franklin Street – from Raleigh Street to Mallette Street
- Henderson Street – from East Franklin Street to East Rosemary Street
- Columbia Street – from Cameron Avenue to Rosemary Street
Residential streets near downtown will be closed except to residents of those streets and their guests.
Chapel Hill Transit
Chapel Hill Transit will follow regular routes and schedules as long as street conditions allow safe travel. Special-event routes, such as the Tar Heel Express and Safe Ride Service, will not be added on Monday.
In the event Franklin Street or other streets are closed following the NCAA National Championship basketball game, the J route will operate on a detoured route and serve the Downtown/Franklin Street area using the following stops:
- J route – pick up and drop off at South Colombia Street at ROTC Building. The route will be detoured along Cameron Avenue, Merritt Mill Road to/from West Franklin Street.
In the event of road closures, Chapel Hill Transit will attempt to maintain posted schedules and routes; however, customers should plan for detours and delays.
For more information about Chapel Hill Transit operations Monday, visit townofchapelhill.org/Home/Components/News/News/10950/22.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 919-485-7433
Media parking will be provided at the Morehead Planetarium. Media vehicles should plan to be in place no later than 10 p.m. Vehicles will not be permitted to enter these staging areas after the streets are closed.
A media briefing will be held at 1 a.m. on the Franklin Street side of the University Baptist Church parking lot.
Information: Police Officer Phil Smith at 919-968-2864 or email@example.com; Capt. Joshua Mecimore at 919-968-2747 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Communications Specialist Ran Northam at 919-969-4878 or email@example.com.