City, DOT eye making Capital Boulevard a freeway

Commuters' battle for lane advantage along Capital Boulevard in northern Wake County has caught city and state planners' eyes. But it could be a long time before lanes are added or intersections improved.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Drivers and state and city planners agree: Commuters' twice-daily battle to maneuver through the two lanes of Capital Boulevard in northern Wake County is unsafe.

"It looks like where there's been a wreck. I mean, it's just bumper to bumper," driver Penny Hill said.

"It's frustrating. Sometimes, you want to run the light, but you can't because you don't want to get caught," driver Shane Diugud said.

Motorists said that traffic is especially a nightmare at intersections during rush hour. Hill said that she leaves a half-hour early every morning to get to her workplace at Capital and Perry Creek Road.

"If you leave after 7:15 in the morning, it's too crazy, so I usually leave about 6:45 in the morning," Hill said.

Raleigh City council members say they have taken notice of the traffic problem.

"In the morning or in the afternoon, you sit in that horrendous traffic, and you immediately see why we need to provide some relief in that area," Councilman Roger Koopman said.

The city has asked the state Department of Transportation to study traffic along Capital Boulevard/U.S. Highway 1, north of Interstate 540 in Wake County. The City Council has asked for lanes to be added and intersections to be improved.

Wake Forest and Franklin County have also expressed interest in the project.

"It just takes forever, you know," Diugud said.

DOT officials did not argue with Diugud's assessment.

"(There are) a lot of needs in the area, just not enough money to put all the fires out," DOT Division Engineer Wall Bowman said.

Bowman said a study by DOT showed that the best solution would be to make Capital a freeway – a project that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The agency does not have a timetable for improvements.

"It's going to be awhile before we can get around to improving U.S. 1," Bowman said.

Motorists said that meanwhile, traffic will only get worse with so much growth in that area.

"It could be fixed," Hill said. "It's just going to take money and time."


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