CARY, N.C. — The Department of Transportation says there is no doubt that road work on U.S. 1 through Cary will cause serious traffic headaches. The DOT is trying to ease the pain by getting the word out ahead of time.
Anyone who commutes through Cary on U.S. knows sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for miles is not unusual. The confounding congestion is all in the numbers -- 93,000 commuters pass U.S. 1 near Walnut Street every day.
Next spring, the DOT will begin work on an extra lane for each side of U.S. 1 from Walnut Street to Tryon Road. It will also redo the U.S. 1/Walnut Street interchange.
"The congestion out there today is bad. It'll be worse, I think, during construction," DOT construction director Steve DeWitt said. "What we have done as a DOT is try to find all the contracting mechanisms we can think of to make sure that once we start we stay on schedule."
Mechanisms like fining contractors for missing deadlines and paying bonuses for finishing ahead of schedule.
Tom's Train Station is right across the tracks from the planned road work. Owner Tom Staley wonders if lane closures, Jersey barriers and construction delays will knock business off-track.
"Construction brings inconvenience and it brings stress and people are going to go where it's convenient and where it's less stressful. So we have to just wait and see," Staley said.
The DOT will hold a meeting Tuesday from 4 - 6 p.m. at the Cary High School cafeteria to explain the construction impact to business owners. It may not ease the pain, but should limit surprises coming out of the tunnel.
"I think if you know it's coming -- and the DOT appears to be trying to tell us what's coming -- that if we plan for it, we can deal with it, you know, much better," Staley said.
It is a fix that will take two years to finish -- two years of headaches no one looks forward to.