Local News

Ramp meters could ease interstate merging in Triangle

Posted September 8, 2013

— Rush hour traffic around the Triangle can be a major challenge, and engineers say several cars merging at the same time only makes it worse.

“There’s not enough money to allow us to build our way out of congestion,” said Battle Whitley with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

To help ease the flow, NCDOT is moving toward automated ramp meters, which function like traffic signals to control the flow of vehicles merging onto interstates. The system includes sensors in the pavement that trigger the traffic light to activate only when congestion on the interstate reaches a certain threshold.

"When those volumes or conditions change, then the ramp meter turns off," Whitley said.

With ramp meters, the signal changes from red to green every few seconds to allow one car at a time to merge into traffic.

"It keeps people from having to hit the brakes to slow down and cause those backups," Whitley said.

NCDOT recently completed a study that shows ramp meters, which are already used in 13 other states, will work along Interstates 40, 440 and 540. The cost estimate to install the ramp meters range from $3.2 million for 14 sites to $2.5 million for 10 sites.

traffic merge DOT to install ramp meters to control traffic flow

Still, area drivers have mixed opinions.

"I think that it will cause more congestion, and I think that it will cause a lot more wrecks," said Ally McRee.

Drive Andy Ballin said, "On the surface, it sounds like a great idea."

But traffic engineers are confident they will help.

"There’s potential we could have ramp meters within a year," Whitley said.

86 Comments

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  • Mon Account Sep 10, 2013

    How about using the message boards on the highway to offer some simple advice, perhaps a new message each day:
    - Right lane: merging/exiting/driving like a grandmother
    - Middle lane: driving
    - Left lane: passing
    - Do not pass on the right
    - If people are passing you, move to the middle or left lane
    - Do not tailgate - Be going at least the same speed as the people in the right lane when you enter the highway - Do not slow down until you're on the exit ramp

    *OR* just do the NC thing and install lights on entrance ramps. I'm sure if people can't understand how to use a highway then they'll figure out these lights and the purpose of them in a jiffy.

  • cydonian Sep 10, 2013

    I can only assume by their comment that "JustOneGodLessThanU" is one of the many, many people who live around here who think they can dictate to me how fast I go by parking themself in the left lane doing 17 mph below the average speed and slamming their brakes on if someone tries to dislodge them. Typical Christian hypocrite.

  • pooodaddy Sep 10, 2013

    Who is that girl in the big black Cadillac with the plate PRSNGOD or something? Seriously she should be shot! I saw her going at least 90 passing cars in every lane and cutting people off. I've had several run in's with her. I take that back...she should be tortured!

  • Kaitlyn Sep 10, 2013

    This is a great idea DOT. Now put one on the US70 bypass ramp onto I40 W so you can fix the 5 mile backup on I40 that you engineering geniuses caused when you designed that ridiculous connection!

  • jamieamandanc Sep 9, 2013

    It would be wonderful if people would use the ramps for their original intent. An acceleration lane. Why do people merge at 45 onto a 70 posted mile per hour highway? People need to read their driving handbooks from the DMV again. I hope when they do, they review the sections that states all slower traffic in the right lane too. I'm a NC native and believe we have to have some of the worst drivers out there. If you don't believe it, drive around here when it sprinkles rain. Lol

  • STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 Sep 9, 2013

    TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE idea!!!

  • puttputtstick Sep 9, 2013

    The ramp meters are a dumb idea but, it seems to be a common comment from people from other locals that NC drivers are terrible. Well I didn't know there were so many clairvoyants that can tell the birthplace of all the other motorists around them when those motorists do something they don't like. How do you guys do it? When I look into the other vehicles of people who drive slow in the left lane I can't tell where they are from.

  • USAF20YR Ret Sep 9, 2013

    I have lived where these devices were installed, and they work. The problem is they won't work in NC, because people do not know how to merge in NC, especially around the Raleigh are, nor do they know how to exit the highway; i.e. shooting across from left lane to exit. Come on, you have seen it, numerous times.

    I will propose a new question to the the NC written driver's test:

    What device caused the biggest accident cause in NC (rear end accidents) to multiply 10 fold.

    You know the answer.

  • hamilton27603 Sep 9, 2013

    HMM lets see 80,0000 pound tractor trailer entering in the flow of traffic, at 35mph compared 5mph.

  • Big Mike Sep 9, 2013

    It is very dangerous to merge into full speed traffic from a standstill than it is to merge with equal speed of the traffic flow!..Dumb move and wasted money!

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