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Traffic in the Triangle Reaching Critical Mass

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RALEIGH — The biggest parking lot in the Triangle may be Interstate 40 during the rush hour. Quality of life is bringing thousands of new neighbors to the region. And their cars. And their commutes. And their traffic jams. As WRAL's Mark Roberts explains, the extra pressure on our highways is reaching critical mass.

For many people, sitting in traffic has become a way of life. The daily jam to and from work. On 64, on 40, on 440. Planners keep adding lanes, but they'll never catch up with all the traffic.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles.Jim Ritchey/Triangle Transit Authority:"There's not much more we can do in the heart of Raleigh and west between Durham and Research Triangle Park. That's why a regional rail system provides that real relief in some of our most congested corridors."The Triangle Transit Authority already has money in the bank to buy rights of way for a regional rail system. Many say a region can't continue to grow without more transportation options.

One region with explosive growth, and a mass transit system to match it, is Atlanta. The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) commuter rail system is the backbone of the city's mass transit system.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles.Richard Simonetta/MARTA General Manager:"It's making the quality of life better. It's giving people choices... and that's important.:While the vision for Raleigh is slightly different, the general idea is the same: get people off the roads, and onto the rails.

But, not all Triangle leaders are embracing rail transit. Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer says one problem with commuter rail can be found on board our area's commuter buses.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."Virtually no-one rides our buses who has access to a car... so we're not taking any cars off the streets with our bus system."

Our look at plans for mass transit in the Triangle, "Critical Mass" continues as a joint effort between WRAL-TV and theThe News & Observer. Look for stories in the N&O and on WRAL's "30 Minutes" on Sunday, March 1. Coverage continues Monday, March 2, on WRAL's 6 O'Clock News.