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Highway 55's Growing Pains Continue To Frustrate Motorists

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Most of the time, motorists cannot drive 55 miles per hour on Highway 55. Thousands of commuters from Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina and beyond know their pain everyday. Officials claim they are just too many cars and not enough road on the overburdened direct route into Research Triangle Park (RTP).

The state board of transportation just approved some potential relief. DOT crews will add one lane to each side of Highway 55 from Highway 64 just above Apex to Cornwallis Road on the north side of RTP. Engineers have also planned turn lanes at many intersections.

"We're hoping that it will alleviate a lot of the problems we have out there with people having to wait behind traffic trying to turn left onto Highway 55 during rush hours or anytime during the day," DOT engineer Wiley Jones said.

Some motorists claim it is about time that the road was widened.

"This road should have been widened a long time ago. I've sat trying to go to work at 7:30 a.m. in the morning," motorist Mark Suhl said. "You hit that right time or that wrong time, actually, and you'll sit there for 45 minutes before you get down to RTP. It's ridiculous."

The DOT says relief takes time. Work starts next month and will last at least three years.

Cary is loaning the DOT $14 million for the section closest to town limits. The state will pay Cary back with interest. Crews can close lanes anytime except 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.