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Officials Consider Accelerating Options for Highway 64 Commuters

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WAKE COUNTY — Travelling on Highway 64 in eastern Wake County can be a traffic nightmare -- one commuters may not wake up from until the year 2007. But local leaders met Wednesday hoping to accelerate improvements on the road that carries thousands of people to and from Raleigh every day.

"We obviously have gridlock out there on Highway 64," Knightdale Mayor Joe Bryan says. "It takes me 32 minutes each day to go the six miles from Knightdale to the beltline, and that's just entirely too long."

There is relief on the way for Highway 64 commuters, but not until 2007 when the Knightdale bypass, and a portion of the outer loop, will be constructed in eastern Wake County.

Several dozen local, state and business leaders met Wednesday morning to discuss what can be done in the meantime to ease the congestion.

Wendell Mayor Lucius Jones says the group considered many possibilities, including re-examining the allocation formula in the legislature for fast-growth areas.

"There were suggestions made on looking at other financing options, such as bonds, possible local gasoline tax, and things of that nature, even toll roads were mentioned," Jones says.

If toll roads were to become a reality, they would be different roads than are already on the drawing board.

Insiders say even if funding could be accelerated, the bypass and outer loop would be completed sooner, but not in the foreseeable future.

As a temporary solution, officials discussed creating reversible lanes on the existing road. For example, in the morning, three lanes of 64 would be westbound, and one would be eastbound. The traffic pattern would be reversed for the evening commute.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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