Local leaders hope Fortify project puts spotlight on public transit options
Posted May 15, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — As Fortify construction crews prepare to begin a new phase of the massive project that will likely create long traffic delays on Interstate 40 in south Raleigh, local leaders in transportation and business are looking ahead to the future of local transit.
Leaders presented ideas and heard from residents on Monday about possible transit options for the future, including those that are being put in place to help Raleigh residents deal with at least another year and a half of Fortify construction. Experts also discussed what expanded train and bus services could look like in the Triangle area.
"The regional business community recognizes that maintaining the integrity of our freeway system is essential for regional mobility and commerce, and we are fully supportive of the Fortify project," Joe Milazzo II, executive director of the business leadership group Regional Transportation Alliance, said.
GoTriangle CEO and general manager David King says offering more choices is key.
"Our current partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the Fortify project is allowing us to drive home the increasing viable public transit options and their value," he said. "If 10 percent of drivers on I-40 took the bus, carpooled or vanpooled just one day a week, it would remove 2,200 cars from the road daily. That's 5.5 miles of traffic."
Reducing traffic on the highway will be key in the coming year. Crews will reduce the 8.5-mile stretch of I-40 from U.S. Highway 1 in Cary to the I-40/440 split to three lanes in each direction in the coming weeks, and NCDOT engineers believe the shift could add 30 minutes for each trip through the work zone during peak times.
NCDOT has invested $12 million in transit options with the goal of getting about 30,000 cars off the road and away from the construction zone during peak times. About 120,000 vehicles go through the area daily.
GoTriangle has added daily express bus service routes between downtown Raleigh and cities in Wake and Johnston counties, and the group has also increased rideshare programs and has been helping NCDOT make local employers aware of commuting alternatives such as teleworking and flexible work schedules.
Work on the Fortify project is expected to be complete in late 2016, but NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata says discussions about future transit needs will continue beyond then.
"As we complete this necessary safety rebuild project, we are working hard to minimize the impact to anyone who travels through the area, and our transit partners play a vital role in that effort," Tata said. "Continuing to invest in long-term transit options in the Triangle and other high-growth areas of the state is an important part of our multimodal vision to better connect people and support economic growth."