DOT says closing lane near Clayton Bypass easing traffic flow
Posted November 3, 2011
Clayton, N.C. — Some drivers would be hard-pressed to believe it, but state transportation engineers say that an effort to ease congestion on Interstate 40 in Johnston County by closing a lane is working.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation on Sept. 14 blocked off a lane of westbound I-40 where the U.S. Highway 70 Clayton Bypass joins the interstate. Engineers said drivers had been using the lane to pass slower traffic during morning rush hour, creating more delays as they tried to merge back into traffic later.
Six weeks later, many commuters say the shift is a flop.
"If anything, it made it worse. Cutting the lanes down, it just makes the traffic more congested," Robbie Evans wrote on WRAL-TV's Facebook page.
Other drivers, however, said the DOT's experiment appears to be working.
"(We) love it. It has made our commute much faster each day," Robert and Amanda Willis wrote.
DOT spokesman Steve Abbott said Thursday that the experiment is "going about as we expected," but engineers want to collect data for another two weeks before deciding whether to make the lane closure permanent.
Traffic is a little slower approaching the Clayton Bypass on westbound I-40, Abbott said, but in the merge area itself, the changes are improving traffic flow.
"It's fast enough in the merge area that you're covering for that deficit (before the interchange). So overall, the trip is shorter and faster," he said.
Drivers on the Clayton Bypass are seeing longer delays as they try to merge onto I-40, he said, but engineers are trying to focus on the higher volume of drivers on I-40.
If the DOT decides to keep the lane closed, crews will replace the orange barrels with a more permanent design in the coming weeks.