DOT looking to widen parts of I-40

Posted June 4, 2008

— State Board of Transportation officials met Wednesday to discuss improvements along Interstate 40 to reduce congestion in some of the most traveled areas.

Among the changes, part of a seven-year DOT transportation improvement plan, would be widening I-40 to six lanes between Wade Avenue and U.S. Highway 1 in Raleigh.

The $32 million project is considered a short-term fix to manage bottlenecks created by the area's booming population. For the long-term, the DOT says eight to 10 lanes are needed.

"Deep down, you knew it would be an area that needed to be widened," Wally Bowman, an engineer with the DOT, said. "It's just a matter of the funding that's available for the many needs in the RTP area. There's just more needs than there is funding at this time."

Construction could begin as early as 2010 and would take about two years to complete.

The DOT also wants to add a second exit lane from southbound Interstate 540 to westbound I-40 near Research Triangle Park and an extra outer lane on westbound I-40 from RTP to Page Road.

The project is necessary, the DOT says, because traffic is far more than what was originally planned.

"The land use planning had changed," Bowman said. "A lot of development occurred in that area that greatly exceeded the traffic projections we had planned for the ramp movement."

The DOT also wants to begin planning to widen I-40 from Interstate 440 through southeastern Wake County to N.C. Highway 42 in Johnston County.

The final version of the plan will be available Thursday, when the full Transportation Board meets.


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  • john60 Jun 5, 2008


    "Same for the exit lane from i-540 to I-40. They could also develop other exits into RTP along I-540 so everyone didn't have to take that one exit."

    The above quote of your's is what I was commenting from. I misunderstood. You're asking why aren't there more exits from I-540 to RTP south of US 70 so everyone doesn't have to take I-40?

    That's simple; new freeways cost about $30 million/mile, and that's just to build the lanes (interchanges cost more) and doesn't include right of way. Not saying it's impossible, but it would cost a lot of money and we'd probably still be waiting on it today.

    Look at an aerial map of western Wake County; it's amazing that they found room for I-540 back when it was planned, and at that time there wasn't a need for another route into RTP. US 70, Davis Drive and I-40 were enough.

  • Cahulawassee Jun 5, 2008

    Fast forward 5 years with no work done and the DOT having blown its budget: "We have a plan to add a private toll lane to I-40!"

  • NotFromHere Jun 5, 2008


    I'm not quite sure what you're talking about since I didn't say anything about the one lane exit from I-540 onto I-40. My complaint is, why didn't they plan more exits between Hwy 70 and I-40 so there could be more decent routes from I-540 to Alexander Drive and South Miami Blvd. Most of that area back there is run down farms and tobacco barns. Surely they could have added an exit there with a nice straight 4 lane road west to South Miami Blvd. That way not everyone going to RTP would have to exit at I-40.

  • Fishman Jun 5, 2008

    Typical DOT shortsightedness and poor planning.

  • john60 Jun 5, 2008


    There's a good reason why the ramp from I-540 to I-40 WB was only one lane as built. It's called "the interchange just west of there". Had two lanes on the ramp been added back then, that interchange would need to be rebuilt to handle the two ramp lanes properly. If you want to see how two ramp lanes get dropped, look at the Six Forks Road interchange on I-540 going east. First one ramp drops, then the second one, but it takes about half a mile to do this. There's not enough room to do this before the (Page Road?) interchange on I-40, so they just used one lane on the ramp from I-540. I have no idea how they'll squeeze both lanes under the Page Road bridge, but it may get interesting if there's not enough room.

  • john60 Jun 5, 2008

    First, I-540 was built in the north because that was where the heaviest demand was. It still is; too bad for the southern half that the money ran out (or was taken by the legislature, your choice).

    Second, adding tolls to existing I-40 is a non-issue, non-starter, period. That would require the state to pay back ALL the Federal money used to build it in the first place, or to somehow separate the new lanes from all the others so they can add tolls to them alone (like Virginia's "Lexus lanes" on I-95). Neither option is feasible.

    Third: Low speed roundabouts --on I-40--???? What are some of you smoking? You did see the 13 mile long backup on I-40 when traffic was slowed down for a crash a few days ago? You'd see that every day if such a silly idea was actually built.

    Fourth: NCDOT has "run out of money" only if you mean "not enough money for every project at the same time". There's enough for some projects, just not all of them.

  • piperchuck Jun 5, 2008

    Since the DOT is short on money, when they do the widening they should also add a toll booth, just like they're planning for the additional parts of 540.

  • Bob Sidel Jun 5, 2008

    "DUH to the brainiac for that winning idea."

    Im sure it had nothing to do with budgetary issues, why noy widen every road to 20 lanes, DUH theres not money available to do that braniac DUH

  • IHave1-2 Jun 5, 2008

    Here's an idea for DOT: why not add an extra lane from the 15/501 interchange to the I40/I85 merge to stop the gridlock that often occurs in afternoon rush hour? You know, from the merging of 4 lanes into 2 at the same location. DUH to the brainiac for that winning idea. Does anyone study traffic flow evaluations during these outrageously expensive studies? (Rhetorical question, of course).

  • NotFromHere Jun 5, 2008

    Rather than just increasing capacity on current highways, NC really needs to develop NEW highways and high capacity roads. When I moved to this area, Cary had 35,000 people and there were 4 main routes into RTP. Over the years the population has more than tripled but only one route into RTP has been added - Davis Drive and it was made a 2 lane road. Hwy 54 into RTP should have been widened 20 years ago. The David Drive widening should have been done 10 years ago. And other routes should have been developed over the years.

    Same for the exit lane from i-540 to I-40. They could also develop other exits into RTP along I-540 so everyone didn't have to take that one exit. The NC DOT would rather route everyone onto already congested I-40 than tear down a few houses and abandoned tabacco barns between I-540 and Miami Blvd and put in a decent alternate exit.