Highway 55 Improvements Under Way
Posted August 2, 2001 12:12 p.m. EDT
APEX — Interstate 40 is bad enough, but some of the Triangle's biggest traffic troubles happen along secondary highways.
Highway 55 connects many of the area's fastest growing communities, and that means the traffic jams are also growing. Improvement is on the way, but do not count on much improvement in Apex anytime soon.
Even after the morning rush, traffic trickles on Highway 55. Relief is in sight, as motorists slowly rolling by see crews working on widening the overburdened highway.
The plan is to spend $100 million over the next seven years to widen 55 to four and five-lanes from Fuquay-Varina to RTP. However, the DOT is not touching the three-mile-stretch that runs through Apex. A railroad bridge, coupled with the town's opposition to a five lane highway, will create a two lane bottleneck in Apex.
"There is going to be a lot of traffic all of a sudden merging on two little lanes which is going to be really hectic. So if you get off of work at 5, it may be 7:00 or 7:30 before you get home," said motorist Greg Chance.
Mattie Marrow remembers driving 55 when it was a dirt road. She says there is a reason why the road builders are playing catch-up.
"While they were sitting around making decisions traffic was being increased everyday, so now people that went out around Cary, Sanford and Fuquay, they are all running down 55 and it is a creeping journey. It wears a car out. It will wear a car out," Marrow said.
Engineers say the project is on schedule, but after all the recent heavy rains, contractors say it will not be dry enough until Thursday to get all this heavy equipment back in action.
There will be growing pains and a bottleneck in the middle, but many commuters say they are happy that the Highway 55 work is under way.
In one bit of good news, DOT engineers say most of the lane closures due to the road work will come during non-rush hours.