DOT: On-ramp signals could help ease congestion on I-540
Posted April 7
Raleigh, N.C. — As the North Carolina Department of Transportation continues to look for new ways to ease congestion on some of the Triangle's busiest highways, a lane closure planned for this weekend will offer a bit of insight on what's to come for the state's first ramp-signal project.
Weather permitting, crews will shut down Interstate 540 West at Leesville Road at 9 p.m. so crews can widen the existing ramp and resurface it, install guardrail and temporarily stripe new pavement.
The ramp should reopen by 6 a.m. Monday.
On-ramp signals, also known as ramp meters, are stop-and-go lights on highway entrance ramps.
They work like traffic signals. When activated, vehicles on the ramp must stop when the light is red and wait a few seconds until it turns green before entering the highway.
The meters allow one of two vehicles to merge at a time, spacing out the number of cars entering the highway to create better traffic flow.
DOT officials say they hope to begin using on-ramp signals by September in the following locations on I-540:
- Falls of Neuse Road (Exit 14)
- Six Forks Road (Exit 11)
- Creedmoor Road (Exit 9)
- Leesville Road (Exit 7)
According to a DOT officials, on-ramp signals have worked in other metro areas.
DOT officials say they resulted in a 22 percent decrease in travel time during peak hours in Houston and a 16 percent decrease in the crash rate during metered hours in Phoenix.
According to the same study, peak congestion lasted 44 minutes on Leesville Road in 2011. That grew to 73 minutes in 2013.
"As commuters know, especially in the morning on the westbound side, things get very congested," DOT spokesman Steve Abbott said. "Coming down the ramp, you may have a pile of cars, and all of a sudden they're merging in all different places."
The state is also evaluating on-ramp signals for Charlotte-area interstates.
Officials say the signals can be activated at any time in response to unusual circumstances – such as special events and collisions – but typically, their use will be limited to peak periods, such as morning and evening commutes.
"Obviously, it's intended for rush hour, but we can use it if there's a crash up ahead to limit how many cars get on the road," Abbott said.
During this weekend's closure, drivers can access westbound I-540 by driving east and exiting at Creedmoor Road (Exit 9).
Drivers should turn left, go under the interstate and then turn left to travel west.