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Western Wake Commute Times Growing Longer

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APEX — There's no doubt about it -- more growth means more traffic, and the western part of Wake County is a perfect example. Some residents of that area say their commute time has doubled and they want to see changes become a Department of Transportation priority.

Many who commute on N.C. 55 say they spend much of their time trying to avoid making a left turn. That's one of the roads where standstill traffic can be found any weekday morning or afternoon. There are some improvements scheduled, but those improvements have a tough time keeping up with continued growth.

Thousands of commuters travel N.C. 55 to and from Research Triangle Park, making the once-rural road one of the most overburdened in the Triangle.

"Traffic just gets hectic," said commuter Darrell Ray. "When you try to make this turn down here onto [U.S.] One, that backs up traffic real bad."

The NCDOT did add a turn lane on N.C. 55 in Apex, and new improvements are on the drawing board. The first phase of construction will take place between Apex and Holly Springs.

"The bridge over U.S. 1 is going to be widened, and the section between the two towns should enlarge to a five lane [highway]," said Mike Wilson, assistant town manager of Apex.

That construction phase will last two to three years and improvements north of Apex won't begin until the next century.

"This road project is competing with all the others that are needed in the Triangle," said Wilson. "The outer loop project's very important, too. There's just really not quite enough to go around to do all these things at one time."

One commuter has adopted a positive attitude about the slow commute. He said he doesn't mind the traffic as long as the air conditioner in his car holds out.


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