Local News

DOT: No Relief From Beltline Backup Anytime Soon

Posted February 24, 2003 6:07 a.m. EST

— The delays that have occurred on the beltline from the Knightdale bypass construction will continue for a while, according to officials of the Department Of Transportation. But they say the wait will have been worth it once traffic starts moving freely again.

Engineers originally said they'd need to close lanes between Poole and New Bern for a year. Now they're saying motorists can expect to tack on five more months to that estimate.

Beltline commuters are feeling the pain of more construction, fewer lanes and big backups. It's hitting them right between Poole and New Bern, where the jersey barriers block the two inside lanes.

It's all part of connecting the beltline to the Knightdale bypass.

"It's very inconvenient, and they could do it at night," motorist Crystal Duty said. "They don't need to do it during the day when we're trying to get to work and back."

Actually, the DOT says it can't do the work at night. Engineers say they need the space to build the complicated flyover bridge that will connect the beltline and the bypass.

During non-rush hours, traffic hasn't been as bad. But there'll be backups, during rush hours, now through mid-2004.

"Oh, my goodness gracious," Duty said. "That's July and a year. That would be horrible. That would be horrible."

It may be horrible in the short term. But in the long term, according to the DOT, the Knightdale bypass will relieve traffic strain on Highway 64, a major route that is way over capacity and jammed almost every day.

The bypass will parallel 64 from the beltline to Wendell.

DOT officials ask motorists stuck in the jam created by construction to just bear with them.

"I know it's frustrating," said DOT engineer Steve Leonard. "I travel those areas myself, and if you will just be patient with us, we'll try to get out of there quickly."

Still, the people stuck in the traffic say it feels like they can't get away from the orange construction zone signs.

"That orange sign is the state flag of North Carolina," Duty said. "That's exactly what that is. It's the state flag."