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RTP Traffic Snarl Merits Separate Assessment

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — It's just a mess. There's no other way to describe the daily traffic snarls that choke the roads surrounding Research Triangle Park.

The rush hour congestion is such a big problem that North Carolina's Secretary of Transportation Norris Tolson is going to address it today in a program separate from the state's overall Transportation Improvement Plan.

The park needs a separate program because the number of people employed there keeps growing and growing.

Right now about 50,000 people work there. But a lot of people don't realize another 50,000 work in office space just outside RTP.

And even more are coming. In the next decade another 20,000 to 30,000 people are projected to be employed in the park.

"Selby Wellman from Cisco has expressed concern about being able to bring people, hire people, to this area, because of the traffic problems," says Liz Rooks of the Research Triangle Foundation. "And that's certainly something that no one in North Carolina wants to have happen. The Research Triangle Park has been such an important aspect of North Carolina's economic health in the last almost 40 years."

The companies in RTP have tried to alleviate the traffic problem. Many have instituted flex-time hours, and some have gone to in-house daycare, medical facilities, on-site banking and dry cleaning, and jogging trails -- all of which keep employees off the roads and on company property.

But the firms say they are now tapped out, and what is really needed is a substantial highway plan.

The first in a statewide series of public meetings on the Transportation Improvement Plan is scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon in Durham. The meeting will be held at Durham City Hall from 4 - 8 p.m. Anyone who can't make that or other meetings that will be announced, can call 1-877-DOT-4YOU to register opinions.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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