Raleigh, N.C. — Drivers around Raleigh could see ramp meters controlling the flow of traffic onto highways if a bill that cleared the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday is signed into law.
House Bill 1025, which must clear the full Senate before returning the House, would make ignoring a ramp meter, which looks something like a traffic light, an infraction.
The state Department of Transportation is already eying several locations around Raleigh as places where they believe ramp meters could ease traffic flow at busy highway interchanges. But current law would treat ignoring a ramp meter the same as running a traffic light, a serious violation that brings with it insurance points and hefty fines.
"We do not believe the risk of running a ramp meter is anywhere near the risk of running an intersection," Kevin Lacy, an engineer with DOT, told the committee.
Changing the violation to an infraction would allow tests with the new systems, which are used in other states, to go forward.
Lacy said that four locations on the northern part of Interstate 540 in Wake County were the first places in line for ramp meters. The city of Raleigh has also asked the state to look at other interchanges on Interstate 440. Charlotte city officials have asked DOT to look at highway interchanges in Mecklenburg County.
Other portions of the measure, which binds together more than a dozen smaller transportation-related issues, would allow the department to advertise on the side of trucks that provide motorist assistance – a program that might net between $1 million and $2 million – and would repeal the legislative mandate for an annual report by DOT that details the number of crashes caused by drivers turning right on red. A DOT official said that the report details only one or two accidents every year, so is not very useful.
The measure passed on a voice vote and is headed to the Senate floor.