* NOTE: Like any metropolitan area, the infrastructure of the Research Triangle, including the area of Chapel Hill, is taxed to its limits during “rush” hours. Travelers unfamiliar with the area would be well advised to time their arrival so as to avoid the morning and evening rush times.
The Raleigh-Durham International Airport
The RDU Airport is a very large full service international airport located near the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina. Several airlines service the RDU airport from a wide variety of cities. The RDU airport is about 20 miles east of UNC-CH. It is also possible to fly into Greensboro, NC, at the Piedmont Triad International Airport. It is about an hour to the west of Chapel Hill along the I-40 corridor. (Flying to Greensboro instead of RDU is not usually done unless all flights are booked to RDU). If necessary, a taxi can be taken from the RDU airport directly to campus.
Getting to the Chapel Hill Area from the RDU Airport
Exit the airport, proceed directly onto I-40 West. Follow the directions for I-40 West arrival below.
Getting to the Chapel Hill Area from the Greensboro Airport
Exit the airport, proceed directly onto I-40 East. Follow the directions for I-40 East arrival below.
Getting to the Chapel Hill Area by Car
Chapel Hill is primarily served by Interstate-40, Interstate-85, US Highway 15/501, and local Highway 54 (note: Highway-54 is not on every map). Using a map, determine which of the above roads you will be using, and note the directions therein:
Arriving westbound on I-40
This is generally the route for people who have come up from South Carolina or Florida along I-95 North. Follow I-40 West, through Raleigh, the RDU airport, and Research Triangle Park. Ignore the highway-54 exit for Chapel Hill, and continue to the exit for Chapel Hill Blvd, US Highway 15 and 501. (*)Proceed SOUTH on US- 15/501. You will come to a fork in the road. If you are staying at the HOLIDAY INN, take the left fork, and it is directly in front of you, on your left. OTHERWISE, TAKE THE RIGHT FORK onto Franklin Street, ie, off of US 15/501. Proceed approximately 4 miles directly into campus town. You will be making a left on COLUMBIA STREET, in the heart of town. At the next turn signal, make a left onto CAMERON STREET. The mathematics department is in PHILLIPS HALL, the second building on your right.
Arriving southbound on I-85
This is generally the route for people who are arriving from New England/PA/MD/DC along I-95 South. Take I-85 from Virginia directly into Durham, where it joins with US15-501 South. When the combined 85/15-501 highway splits, TAKE THE SPLIT (left) FOR US 15-501 SOUTH, exiting the interstate. Proceed to the directions below for southbound arrival on 15/501.
Arriving northbound on I-85 or eastbound on I-40
This is the most common route for people entering along the Atlanta- Charlotte-Raleigh corridor from the south, or who have entered North Carolina along I-77 near Winston-Salem. Just to the east of the city of Burlington NC, there will be an exit clearly marked for Chapel Hill, Highway 54. Exit onto 54, and proceed east approximately 20 miles into the Chapel Hill area (near Chapel Hill, 54 becomes a full- blown highway with big green exit signs). Exit on Smith Level Road, making a left at the bottom of the ramp at the traffic signal, (**)and making your first right directly after the 54 overpass onto Merritt Mill Road. The next signal is CAMERON STREET, onto which you will turn right, and continue onto campus. In two or three traffic signals, you will pass Columbia Street. Phillips Hall is your second building on the right after passing Columbia Street.
Arriving southbound on US-15/US-501 (and also I-85 South travelers from above)
Visitors arriving from I-85 southbound or from central Virginia (eg, Charlottesville) will generally be arriving along this route. In Durham NC, note that US 15/501 merges with the Interstate-85 for a short time. Eventually, the road will fork where the two “unmerge”. TAKE THE LEFT FORK which is US-15/US-501 South. In a few miles, you will meet with Interstate 40 exit ramps. At this point, your directions agree with I-40 westbound arrival. Please see those instructions above (*).
Arriving northbound on US-15/US-501
Proceed through Pittsboro, NC. In several miles, you will see the “Cole Park Plaza” on your right hand side. About 2 miles after this, you will arrive at a traffic signal for SMITH LEVEL ROAD. MAKE A LEFT onto Smith Level Road. In approximately 2 miles, you will meet with the highway 54 exit ramps. At this point, your directions agree with the last part of the directions for northbound I-85 arrival, as above.