Local News

DOT says 'superstreet' would ease traffic on Glenwood Avenue

Posted December 4, 2012

— Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh is pretty quiet at mid-morning.

But it’s a different story at rush hour, especially in the section between Interstate 540 and Duraleigh Road.

“It’s frustrating because there’s always stop-and-go traffic,” motorist Liz Marshall said.

Before the state completed Interstate 40 in the late 1980s, Glenwood Avenue was the main route between Raleigh and Durham. Now, more than 45,000 vehicles a day cram into the four lanes on Glenwood between Duraleigh Road and I-540.

The state Department of Transportation has a plan to unclog the major artery – and it starts with a makeover that will turn that section into a “superstreet.”

A superstreet would keep traffic flowing by eliminating the need for drivers on side streets to wait for a green light so they can cross Glenwood Avenue .

Instead, those drivers would turn right onto Glenwood, make a U-turn, then turn right again to continue on the side street.

DOT engineer Jim Dunlop, who has been working on the project, said removing complex traffic signals at intersections would keep vehicles moving on Glenwood and cost less than adding lanes.

“If we can open up those signals, we gain back that capacity without having to do a lot of construction,” he said.

A similar superstreet project that opened on U.S. Highway 15-501 in Chapel Hill in 2008 reduced travel times by 65 percent, Dunlop said.

There is a superstreet project under way along the Highway 55 Bypass in Holly Springs that will accommodate traffic around a new shopping area set to open next year.

Dunlop said superstreets are new to this area, and drivers would have to get used to it. The project on Glenwood Avenue would cost $101.3 million, and construction would begin in 2020.

But Marshall says she's ready.

“I think it's a great idea,” she said. “It would free up some of the congestion. It would give us a little room to move.”

The public can learn more about the superstreet proposal at a public workshop from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Lodge on Lead Mine Road.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • dukefanv12 Dec 5, 2012

    It's not going to work at rush hour. people making a right to make a u-turn won't be able to cross the full lanes to make the u-turn, nor will they be able to cross back over right lanes after the u-turn would be made.

  • HuckBuck Dec 5, 2012

    fillandsandy: "Please don't tell me any of the Engineers involved with this plan graduated from NCSU"

    phys.org: "The so-called "superstreet" traffic design results in significantly faster travel times, and leads to a drastic reduction in automobile collisions and injuries, according to North Carolina State University researchers who have conducted the largest-ever study of superstreets and their impacts."

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2011-01-left-superstreet-traffic-safety.html

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 5, 2012

    "Super streets do NOT work." -- smalldogsrule

    How do you reconcile your statement with the following excerpt from the article?

    "A similar superstreet project that opened on U.S. Highway 15-501 in Chapel Hill in 2008 reduced travel times by 65 percent, Dunlop said."

    I live in Chapel Hill and admit that the interchange they put in there takes some getting used to, and it's still not my favorite thing to do, but it is set up to alleviate any issues with U-turns that people here seem to be in a panic over. Like most people, my initial reaction was "this is really dumb!", so I didn't pay close attention to the actual results of the change, but if the report is accurate and the time savings really are 65%, maybe people should just give it a try and see how it works for themselves before preaching gloom and doom.

  • davisgw Dec 5, 2012

    I have witnessed this system in rural areas of Hoke and Moore counties and it is dangerous. I can't imagine anyone of normal intellegence even thinking it might work in heavy traffic. Traffic planers in North Carolina need to get thier heads out in the sunshine more often.

  • nomorethanthat Dec 5, 2012

    Can't see how it will speed up traffic as traffic is bound to be stopped more often for the personal injury accidents that will happen as drivers attempt to twice cross multiple lanes in traffic. This plan reeks of the poorly planned roundabout schemes that are either already in existence or are on the books to be built.

  • dgcreech Dec 5, 2012

    I have seen this particular idea in live use and I can tell you that this is a *HORRIBLE* idea!!!! Down in Harnett County, they did the same in an attempt to eliminate confusion and to streamline traffic flow. While it did streamline traffic, it also has caused at least 1-2 car crashes per week since then. This is one of those situations where it looks great on paper but in reality it's far from a good idea.

  • HadEnough Dec 5, 2012

    This is much cheaper and more effective.
    Do not permit left turns onto Glenwood during heavy traffic except at one or two intersections. All other lights during rush hour are steady green for Glenwood.

  • fillandsandy Dec 4, 2012

    As a native of Raleigh and someone who has lived on both sides of Glenwood Ave., this plan is stupid, boneheaded, etc. Doing u-turns on Glenwood during morning or afternoon rush hour is crazy. The Engineers that designed this plan and those who propose this plan need to get a refund on their education. Please don't tell me any of the Engineers involved with this plan graduated from NCSU. If so I feel my degree is suddenly worth less.

  • lasm Dec 4, 2012

    I drive from Durham on Hwy 70 toward Raleigh and take 540 to go east about 2-3 times a month between 4:00 and 5:00PM. God forbid that I would ever have to go farther than 540 at thet time of day. I used to work in Raleigh and live in Franklin County; and I have used every highway and by-way for over 35 years in and around Raleigh. I know I would be scared to death to try this "superstreet" ""routine"" on any of the major roads in and around Raleigh at rush hour(s). People out there will totally ignore you trying to work your way over 2-3 lanes TWICE and MAKING a U-TURN.....you would be taking your life in your own hands; and none of us have that kind of power!

  • this is fdup Dec 4, 2012

    sorry u turns across five lanes of travel to get to the other side seems like a invitation for more crashes. And what are large trucks going to do?