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Intersection Grades Help Determine Road Construction Priority

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Department of Transportation is now assigning letter grades to intersections and is asking for the public's input.

The DOT's Congestion Management Unit is just finishing work on redesigning the intersection of U.S. Highway 15-501, Erwin Drive and Europa Drive in Chapel Hill -- probably the worst intersection in Chapel Hill, according to DOT engineer Jim Dunlop.

It's grade: definitely an F, Dunlop said.

When significant growth or driver complaints build up, the congestion management team moves in and assigns a letter grade. The average time a driver has to sit in an intersection before moving is the primary grading criteria.

"It's the same as in school, except we are very happy to get a C," Dunlop said.

With the massive development in the 15-501 corridor, the engineers have suggested a total overhaul of the intersection. The DOT plans to start work on the plan in May.

The next intersection the team is taking a look at is in downtown Raleigh where Martin Luther King Boulevard, Salisbury Street and Wilmington Street come together. It's grade: a D.

"You have left-turn phases and other multiple phases, which increase the wait time," Dunlop said. "It's a big intersection, which is less efficient than a tight intersection, so that's why it gets a service level D."

Handing out grades and suggesting changes don't guarantee the roads will be fixed, however. The team's plans have to compete like all other road plans for the ever-tightening state road-funding dollar.

The public can give its input on intersections by calling