Since January 2005 when the work started, drivers say the zone is nothing but a headache. Lane squeezes, roadblocks, and constantly shifting traffic patterns have hassled northbound drivers. Now the pain is moving to the southbound lanes.
As you head south from Walnut Street, the new traffic pattern diverts you off of the old southbound lanes onto what will eventually be the widened northbound lanes. Only a jersey barrier now separates traffic in both directions. This big shift will allow crews to work in this area..where they're turning the old southbound lanes into the wider concrete lanes.
"We knew this project was going to be a painful process for drivers, and we're trying to inform people of that," said Department of Transportation engineer Cadmus Capehart. "I'm sorry if people are upset, but we're probably going to be in this pattern until all of the southbound construction has been completed."
Drivers will have to get used to the shorter merge lanes, and the curving, barrel laden ramp detours. But, there's a payoff on the way.
"We feel we can build the southbound side a lot quicker," said Capehart. "We don't have to contend with traffic and traffic switches right now. That's going to allow us to get in and get a large area of the project done so this should take place a lot faster than what we saw on the northbound side."
At that faster pace, DOT engineers said they can finish the project around October at the earliest, and by the end of the year at the latest. That should mean an end for the headaches.
Many drivers have complained the completed concrete lanes are a rough ride. The DOT says the ride will be smoothed before the new lanes are fully opened.
Many people say they can't believe how many trees DOT crews have just cut down along southbound U.S. 1. Engineers said they had to clear the trees to make way for noise walls. Aside from a few small gaps, there will be noise walls running along U.S. 1 south from Cary Parkway to the 64/Tryon Road exit.
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