DOT Speeds Up Plans For New I-540 Stretch

Posted February 6, 2007

The traffic crunch on Interstate 540 merging into Interstate 40 in Wake County has been a bottleneck for countless weekday mornings.

But now relief is on the way as the Department of Transportation speeds up construction plans.

Many motorists have told the DOT that traffic jams have become unbearable.

“It's painful because you're stuck in traffic, and especially if you have somewhere to go, it's hard,” said motorist Shane Begnaud.

“I've been doing this for five years and it used to take me 25 minutes to get to work,” said motorist Mary Knight. “Now, it takes me up to 45 minutes.”

State officials said they want to open the new stretch of I-540 from I-40 at the Wake/Durham county line to N.C. Highway 54 by May -- three months ahead of schedule.

“That should help the backups in the morning that we're seeing now, and it should make a big difference,” said DOT engineer David Byrd.

The newest section of I-540 from Capital Boulevard to the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass opened last month, putting a lot more cars into the bottleneck area. Now the race is on to get the next section open to relieve the traffic strain.

However, there have been a few setbacks on the project. The DOT said someone lit a big pile of tires on fire on the unopened road recently, melting the pavement. Engineers said crews will need to replace it, but they said that won't throw off the accelerated schedule.

The rest of the new I-540 section -- from N.C. Highway 54 to N.C. Highway 55 in Research Triangle Park -- should be ready for drivers by August

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  • turnpike420 Mar 9, 2007

    NO TOLLS ON 540!! Go to our site and join our grassroots movement to stop tolls on 540! Register in our forums, post, reply, vote in our poll, make your voice heard.

  • usnn Feb 12, 2007

    I fail to see how this will relieve the traffic headed west-bound onto 40. Are all these people headed to 54 and 55?

  • usnn Feb 7, 2007

    Why are there 4 lanes in front of Sweet Tomatoes in Cary, but only 2 lanes on I 40 from Cary to RTP? Is the food that good?

  • kaecee Feb 7, 2007

    I agree with a light rail system also. This area is constantly being advertised as a great place to work and live and it's attracting so many out of towners. The traffic does not shock me because the population has been and is going to increase in massive numbers and 440,540, and all the other beltways and interstates are not going to help. I will admit that NC has prepared for the growth better than some places and still have land to expand, but the growth is happening quickly.

  • Wildman Feb 7, 2007

    From a project management standpoint, an accelerated or compressed schedule means premium labor prices and a charge-back from the contractor to the client. This is not coming without a premium.

    As for the light rail system, how about finishing one thing at a time, like the outer loop. Additionally, the studies performed thus far do not support the idea that a rail system would be either viable or tenable in this market.

  • bill52674 Feb 7, 2007

    If they can speed up to complete the next section, why haven't they been working that fast in the first place? The project would probably be done if people complained 2 years ago.

  • smoothtip99 Feb 7, 2007

    We still need a rapid transit system. More highway, more cars...endless. Raleigh is too congested. It is time that we realize we are behind times. We need a light rail system. I would definitely take it.