Tryon Road a tale of plowing priorities
Posted January 30
Updated January 31
Raleigh, N.C. — When it sleets and snows in North Carolina, the state’s Department of Transportation takes on the plowing of major routes, while cities and towns take care of major roads in their jurisdictions.
It’s a system that usually works, unless there are conflicting priorities.
That’s the case on Tryon Road: Cary plows its part, but it's responsibility ends at the town line. The part of Tryon Road that leads into Raleigh is outside city limits, so though residents there have Raleigh addresses, the road maintenance is actually a DOT job.
The result is a line in the snow at the intersection where plows can turn around.
Brendon LeBlanc works at Gentle Care Animal Hospital and drives Tryon Road every day. On Thursday, when the area was still dealing with ice and snow left over from Tuesday’s winter storm, he wished he had a Cary address – not Raleigh.
“It was OK, but as you come down into Raleigh, it was very icy,” he said.
An aerial view shows clear, dry lanes along Cary’s portion of Tryon Road. Then the road is squeezed down to one clear lane. Raleigh's resources go to other parts of town.
“I wonder why one city does a better job than another city?” LeBlanc asked.
Raleigh spokeswoman Jane Kirkpatrick explained. "Winter storm street treatment that the part of Tryon Road in question is not in the Raleigh city limits and therefore not a City of Raleigh responsibility," she said.
Raleigh Transportation Field Services Manager Chris McGee said the city maintains 1,050 roads in Raleigh, so they must rank them to determine which ones to clear and which ones to leave for NCDOT.
Priority is based on traffic volume.
“Major traffic carriers, bus routes, something that would take you by a hospital,” get top priority, McGee said.
Scott Hecht, director of Public Works for Cary, is proud to say the priorities in his town are a little different.
“We’ve made the choice. We plow ’em all,” he said.
While Cary has 25 percent fewer roads than Raleigh, they have nearly double the trucks and plows. That’s because Town Council members years ago issued a directive that snow removal is a top priority, no matter who owns the road.
“We've got the staff to do (it),” Hect said. “We're going to get out there and do it. We won't wait on DOT.”
Both Cary and Raleigh crews have put in more than 4,000 hours of labor this week on the storm.