Clayton bypass is not a miracle cure for I-40 headaches

Posted June 10, 2008

— Rush-hour congestion may have brought a little indigestion Tuesday morning for drivers who thought the opening of the Clayton Bypass in Johnston County would make their morning commute a breeze.

Traffic still crawled because, as the state Department of Transportation explained, the bypass is no fix for a heavily used Interstate 40.

On Interstate 40 speeds averaged about 30 mph at one point.
Westbound delays began just past Highway 42 and continued beyond the bypass.

That does not, however, mean the $123 million bypass, which is expected to speed thousands of vehicles around the town of Clayton every day, is not a success.

The DOT says that most of the time – about 22 hours a day – drivers could save approximately 15 minutes by taking the U.S. Highway 70 Bypass around Clayton.

The other two hours are during the morning rush hour as cars flow – often slowly – toward Raleigh and the Research Triangle Park.

The backup is, DOT says, an Interstate 40 issue and not something the bypass can help. The bypass puts drivers into the I-40 line farther east than other routes, and westbound I-40 is still westbound I-40.

DOT says the bypass is intended to ease congestion on U.S. 70, not the interstate, and to give drivers better information about their commutes so they can decide what routes to take.

That's why the bypass features the state's first fully automated speed detection system. It uses 22 sensors along the 10.7-mile road to calculate how long a driver motorists will have to certain destinations.

“We now can actually give you information to make a better decision. You can see how long it will take you to get to mile marker 306 whether you use the Clayton bypass or use U.S. 70 business,” said Kelly Damron, a DOT operations engineer.

As for the I-40 headache, there's no aspirin in sight. The state has plans to widen the section where U.S. 70 enters, but construction is unlikely to even begin before 2015. In the meantime, there is the bypass and the new data it provides.

Not everyone is satisfied, of course.

While some people providing feedback on agreed that I-40 is the issue, not the bypass, others were a bit upset.

One person wrote, "Kudos NCDOT! 30 miles per hour this morning would have been a blessing. It was more like 10 miles per hour."

Another added, "It shows a total lack of planning and very little intelligence on the part of those that put it together."


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  • keberwein Jun 11, 2008

    I'm very happy with the new bypass. While it doesn't come anywhere near to removing 15 minutes to my commute, it does save me around 5 minutes a day. As for the congestion at the bypass and I-40, that section of I-40 used to back up way before they built the bypass. It's the additon of traffic from highway 42 onto I-40 that causes the backups.

  • bobdillin123789 Jun 10, 2008

    i am glad its open, been waiting a long time. i will og alot of miles on the bypass, mostly heading EB back to smithfield, and it will save alot of time not having to drive through clayton

  • oldcmag Jun 10, 2008

    It seems to reason that adding another road to I40 will not work for the simple fact that the old one it is made to replace is closed : since that will not happen it seems it will never help I40 It is what it is a bypass around Clayton !

  • ewebb3 Jun 10, 2008

    Is anyone else sick of hearing "the bypass is no fix for a heavily used Interstate 40". Who is talking fix it. We are saying don't add more traffic to an already bad situation. Why is that so hard to understand?

  • ShareTheRoad Jun 10, 2008

    $123 billion dollars so travelers can average a 15 minute savings on their commute. our tax dollars couldnt have been put to use on something with a better payout than a 15 minute shorter commute (excluding rush hours, of course....)

  • ladyblue Jun 10, 2008

    Bless you people at DOT. I use highway 70 regular from Clayton down town to Walmart and it is a disgusting battle fighting all those zooming by cars. I just say it was a pleasure to drive to walmart today in average traffic for a change. It has taken a lot of bumper to bumper off 70....After all they just promised to get you to 40 quicker, not ease congestion on 40.......

  • I am me Jun 10, 2008

    RoadGeek...I have an acre, thank you...and I can't hear my neigbor I did in my old 'hood on my .22 acre lot (and it was a ghetto)!

  • C_Felix Jun 10, 2008

    Its been open ONE DAY!
    There should be no big surprise that the merge was going to cause some slowdowns.
    As many people said, there were some people working on a dead car in the left lane, and that's what caused the majority of the slowdowns. . Give it a week or so, then we'll really be able to see how much this new bit of road helps.

  • justwondering2 Jun 10, 2008

    I just watched the 5pm news and wral clip on the new bypass. Out of the 103 comments posted on golo they chose two that were negative about the DOT to put on the news clip. I find that so typical of wral. They NEVER report anything positive. jmo

  • haggis basher Jun 10, 2008

    30mph sound pretty good to me compared to the RTP commute.

    I'll also bet that Clayton is now a much nicer place to live.....