Traffic

In case we weren't clear, you can't park here

Posted November 14, 2008 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2008 7:18 p.m. EST

— Amid a growing state budget deficit, the Department of Transportation has gone to what appears to be excess to save taxpayer money.

The DOT has placed 39 "No Parking" signs along the 1.5-mile exit ramp off eastbound Interstate 40 to eastbound U.S. Highway 70 Business in Garner. The plethora of signs have perplexed many drivers.

"It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't. I've never seen that before," driver Randy Sauls said.

"I thought they were no passing signs. I guessed people were flying around that corner passing," driver Stephanie Howard said.

Other drivers were simply angry of what they viewed as a waste in a time state agencies are cutting back to deal with a budget deficit that some fiscal analysts have said could grow to $1.6 billion by early next year.

"Taxpayers' money gone to hell," driver Joe Jackson said.

"I can understand one here and one there, but they're, like, simultaneously together," driver Greg Erteol said.

Battle Whitley, a division operations engineer with DOT, said the signs are actually 200 feet apart.

"I wouldn't say it's overkill," Whitley said, noting engineers chose that distance so that there would be no question that parking on Exit 306 (seen in the map below) was dangerous and against the law.

He said the army of signs is the DOT's latest weapon to combat a dangerous enemy – trucks parked along the side of the road. Truckers were parking along the exit ramp overnight to sleep, and their rigs were tearing up the shoulder and road, he said.

If drivers taking the curve in the exit drifted off the pavement, the ruts and holes left by the tractor-trailers threatened their safety, he said.

"Some of them were so large, it could have been a significant accident," he said. "(Posting the signs) was a safety issue."

"I did think (the extra signage) was weird, but sometimes I do come home late – around 3 in the morning – and once in a while I've seen a big truck parked there," driver Katherine Wilson said.

In addition to improving safety, Whitley said the 39 signs also save the state money.

The DOT was spending $10,000 every three to four months to repair the shoulders along Exit 306 and regrade the area, he said. Meanwhile, each of the signs cost less than $100 to install – North Carolina prison inmates made the signs for $37.04 each – so the department spent less than $4,000 on the project, he said.

"When you consider $4,000 versus $40,000 (a year), that's a significant savings," he said.