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Durham, Orange Counties Tell DOT Not to Widen I-40

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RALEIGH — If someone asked Triangle drivers whether they would like to add a couple of lanes to one of the busiest sections of Interstate 40, many of them would say yes. But theDOThas made that offer to Durham and Orange counties and the counties are saying "No, thanks."

Interstate 40 is four lanes in both directions from Wade Avenue to I-540. But right at the Durham County line, the Triangle's busiest highway squeezes down to three lanes.

Durham and Orange County planners turned down the DOT's offer to widen 40 because, they say, they do not want more lanes. They want alternatives, specifically High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

But the DOT says there is now a critical need to widen 40 from the Durham Freeway to I-540.

"We've taken a look at it," says the DOT's Janet D'Ignazio. "We know that when we open up the additional sections of 540 -- the piece from Six Forks Road to Falls of the Neuse, and the piece up to Six Forks Road -- that we have the potential for a bottleneck there, where the 540/I-40 interchange come together."

Bottlenecks are already part of the daily rush, even on the four-lane Wake County sections of 40. But the DOT says widening 40 could help keep things moving past Miami Boulevard, Page Road, and Davis Drive.

The two sides plan to meet to discuss their differences in the near future.

"We have some meetings that are scheduled to discuss with them how we can agree on the long-term goal in light of the fact that we have a very large feasibility study going on right now," D'Ignazio says. "I think we'll get through it. I really do."

Everyone involved in the discussion wants to ease the Triangle's traffic troubles; they just disagree about what to do first.

Under federal Law, local governments must sign off on Interstate highway projects before they can proceed.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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