Local News

Tryon Road a tale of plowing priorities

Posted January 30
Updated January 31

— 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.

59 Comments

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  • sbr1963 Jan 30, 6:58 p.m.

    I would like to commend the Town of Cary for getting and keeping the roads clear. I also appreciated the updates I received via e-mail.

  • dalgal416 Jan 30, 7:45 p.m.

    Explains a lot. Yates Mill Pond Rd and Tryon Rd on the Raleigh side were deplorable. Never saw a truck come through this way. Yates Mill Pond was a sheet of ice this morning on my way to work at 4am. It's amazing that the smaller town of Cary can outdo Raleigh. I commend Cary for taking care of their roads and feel that Raleigh should be ashamed of itself. I can't believe how little snow it takes to cripple this area. Maybe our governor should have directed more funding for the state to be better prepared for snow/ice than to renovate his mansions bathrooms.

  • ncnole90 Jan 31, 8:10 a.m.

    Sure, lets keep the teachers from EVER getting a raise and spend more $ on snow removal . As for Cary...ya'll have more $$$ because only the rich can afford to live there

  • thinkin out loud Jan 31, 8:16 a.m.

    Explains a lot. Yates Mill Pond Rd and Tryon Rd on the Raleigh side were deplorable. Never saw... View More

    — Posted by dalgal416

    Yates Mill Pond Road is not in the city limits of Cary or Raleigh. It is entirely up to the DOT to clear state secondary roads. Cary/Raleigh may chose to clear some that are access roads to other major thoroughfares. Raleigh does a fine job of prioritizing which roads to clear first and I commend them for what they do. They are doing it for all those Cary folks that drive to Raleigh on a daily basis. Lastly, the Governor chose to not remodel the bathrooms, only to make needed repairs.

  • justiceforall Jan 31, 8:17 a.m.

    No excuse for Raliegh and counties to not be better equipped. It does not cost that much to put a plow blade on a pickup (which they have plenty of), and assist the bigger plows by dealing with secondary roads at the same time. kudos to Cary for having some common sense (for a change).

  • Mods Hate Me Jan 31, 8:18 a.m.

    "An aerial view shows clear, dry lanes along Cary’s portion of Tryon Road. But in Raleigh, the road is squeezed down to one clear lane."

    Come on WRAL, if you put something like that in the article, at least show us the photo! Now the curiosity is killing me!

    Also @DALGAL416, what does the Governor's bathrooms have to do with how local municipalities handle clearing their own roads. I thought the NCDOT has actually done a really good job clearing all the major routes across the state.

  • thinkin out loud Jan 31, 8:22 a.m.

    Sure, lets keep the teachers from EVER getting a raise and spend more $ on snow removal . As for... View More

    — Posted by ncnole90

    School is closed due to that snow and teachers are getting paid anyway. Clearly you have not been to Cary recently or do not keep up with what is in the new about them. Like all cities their size, they have there areas of not so "rich" folks also. I grew up in Cary and we were among the not so rich.

  • CaryMacGuy Jan 31, 8:31 a.m.

    Where I come from, the little snow we got would not have closed school for nearly a week...However, I understand the reasoning behind not putting a ton of money into snow removal...it isn't needed all that often...first time really since 2010.

  • sunneyone2 Jan 31, 8:36 a.m.

    "While Cary has 25 percent fewer roads than Raleigh, they have nearly double the trucks and plows."
    And here is the magic answer to all of the questions......

  • kgbeme Jan 31, 8:38 a.m.

    In an area that gets one storm every few years that actually sticks to the road, I would consider it a waste of tax dollars to maintain a larger fleet of trucks for plowing snow. Ideally, it would be nice to see all roads cleared soon after a storm. But we need something for a news story and something to complain about, right.

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