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State's New Traffic Plan May Help Triangle

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — There is an updated seven-year blueprint to improve North Carolina roads, and some relief may be in sight for the Triangle.

The Department of Transportation approved the new plan that speeds up construction on several projects that should ease congestion in the Triangle, and elsewhere as well.

Locally, Davis Drive will be widened to four and five lanes from Research Triangle Park to Cary, a stretch of road that already handles 20,000 to 30,000 cars per day.

"There's a lot of traffic in these areas and really more traffic than we have lanes (for)," says John Nance, a DOT Division Engineer.

The new project was added to the state's master road building plan at a cost of $15 million. A wider Davis drive will do more than move traffic and improve economic development. It will do wonders for commuter attitudes.

"When we come to work during the morning rush hour, at 9:00 in the morning, and when we leave in the afternoon at around 5 or 6, there (are often) traffic jams, and we can get stuck for 35-40 minutes," says one commuter.

"I have a courier service," says another, "and (the plan) will help us to get around these trucks and vans."

The plan adds a lane to Interstate 40, which will connect the Outer Loop and the Durham Freeway. And in Eastern Wake County, the DOT plans to finish the Outer Loop, connecting Highway 64 and Highway 401 near Knightdale, with construction starting next year. And work on a section of Highway 64 bypass will begin in 2005, a year earlier than originally planned.

These are just a few of the statewide projects at the heart of the traffic plan which will concentrate on congestion.