Local News

Ramp meters could be answer to Triangle traffic woes

Posted May 1, 2013

— It’s rush hour on Interstate 40 at Jones Sausage Road in Garner, and several vehicles are trying to merge into the busy traffic at the same time.

The brake lights flash, which state Department of Transportation engineer Kevin Lacy says is bad news for drivers.

“That's costing you more time to get home. That's costing everybody behind you more time to get home,” he said.

But Lacy said there is a solution that would keep traffic merging safely and smoothly – ramp meters.

A common sight in larger cities such as Atlanta, ramp meters are signals installed about halfway along interstate ramps that control merging traffic. Drivers stop at the red light and wait a few seconds for it to turn green, so one vehicle merges at a time.

“It is exactly what it sounds like,” Lacy said. “It meters the traffic coming down a ramp onto a freeway.”

merging traffic DOT looks at ramp meters to help traffic merge

NCDOT has identified several interchanges around the Triangle where it believes ramp metering can help. They include:

• From Miami Blvd. to I-40 east
• From inbound Western Boulevard To I-440 west
• From Leesville Road to I-540 east
• From Aviation Parkway to I-40 east
• From Harrison Avenue to I-40 east
• From inbound Glenwood to 440 west
• From N.C. Highway 55 to I-40 east and west
• From Page Road to I-40 east
• From Jones Sausage Rd. to I-40 west
• From U.S. Highway 15-501 to I-40 west
• From Davis Drive to I-40 east

Lacy said ramp metering in the Triangle is inevitable.

“What ramp metering allows you to do is get a little bit more performance out of your existing facilities,” he said. “That saves taxpayers money and, hopefully, keeps traffic flowing more smoothly on the interstate.”

Some drivers aren't so sure it will work.

“Most people are nice and let multiple cars go,” motorist Sadie Burch said.

Lacy says drivers shouldn’t worry. Ramp metering works all over the world, he said, and it will work here.

“We've got a pretty smart group of folks in North Carolina,” Lacy said. “I think we'll fall right in line.”


This story is closed for comments.

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  • RustyDawg May 2, 2013

    I liken this to the border problem. Yes, there is a border problem. Close the border and then address the immigration problem. Get the drivers to drive and drive only. Then see where the problem lies. Kick Bev's ridiculous "no texting" law to the curb and replace it by banning all hand held electronics from the driver's area. We're all up in arms about guns but, tens of thousands of people here in NC are operating 3000 lb. weapons while putting much of their attention on something else. Does your employer allow you to use your cell phone while operating the company vehicle or forklift? That is grounds for immediate dismissal where I work. Time to grow up people.

  • limeys May 2, 2013

    The light will change to green to allow one car through and then at least four more will drive through on red.

    The "meters" will be installed, at great expense, and removed in two years after they are proven to be ineffective.

  • RustyDawg May 2, 2013

    I have a thought. Take the toys, I mean cell phones out of the driver's hands and watch traffic flow better. It's amazing what happens when you're paying attention! Talking, texting, and surfing the web have no place behind the wheel. If you're one of those that think you can drive and use your phone while performing at an optimal level, you are a fool.

  • heisenberg May 2, 2013

    You need a lesson in fluid dynamics

  • Holy Carp. May 2, 2013

    " The other thing that needs to be done is to teach NC drivers how to merge onto a freeway, and then learn how to DRIVE. Also, learn to OBEY speed limits !!!!!"

    I'm an NC DRIVER and have no problems following all of the rules. Stop putting us all in one bucket of "non-drivers" and move on!

  • Holy Carp. May 2, 2013

    "One of my biggest pet peeves is when I'm merging, and waiting for the faster-moving gap in the first lane to catch up with me. The hole is accessible for the person trailing me first, however, and they merge and take my targeted gap."

    (There has to be a name for this awful, selfish move)

    There is but it wouldn't make it through the moderators. : )

  • mmtlash May 2, 2013

    How would the DOT prevent traffic from jamming up on the city streets as people wait one at a time for the ramp lights to turn green?

  • happymom May 2, 2013

    "People need to live closer to jobs.."

    My husband works in RTP. I work in Raleigh. Maybe we should just divorce since that's the only way your plan would work for us.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning May 2, 2013

    I can see the logic, but won't it be harder to get up to speed? Especially on uphill ramps. It drives me crazy when I'm accelerating fine to get infront of traffic I need to merge with but someone 2 cars in front of me decides it's too close and slows to pull in behind, leaving a line of cars going to slow to merge without enough room to get back up to speed. One at a time would allow each driver to decide if they should accelerate a little more or back off a little without interfering with anyone else.

  • SurvivorOne May 2, 2013

    It would help. They have them in California. The other thing that needs to be done is to teach NC drivers how to merge onto a freeway, and then learn how to DRIVE. Also, learn to OBEY speed limits !!!!!