Local News

N.C. DOT prepares for inauguration traffic

Posted January 17, 2009 5:53 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina Department of Transportation officials are preparing for heavy traffic congestion anticipated from this weekend until next Friday due to President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration next week.

The department has suspended major construction projects on northbound lanes of Interstates 85 and 95 from Saturday until Tuesday and southbound lanes from Wednesday until Friday. The state Highway Patrol has also increased patrols.

More than 2 million people are expected to fill the nation's capital for Obama's swearing-in. D.C. officials expect to shut down major routes into the city once it reaches capacity, and some have predicted that traffic could back up into North Carolina as a result.

N.C. DOT will use dynamic-message signs to inform motorists of heavy traffic conditions expected north of Richmond, Va. The department will also work with transportation officials in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to alert motorists of any incidents and delays.

“We just ask if folks will be patient if they experience those delays and make sure they have plenty of gas, because the weather’s cold, and we don’t want them to get stranded,” N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Young said.

Motorists can dial 511 for real-time information from North Carolina’s toll-free travel system.

“We may take another route other than I-95 just to alleviate some of the traffic flow that we think we’re going to run into,” said David Prince, vice chairman of the Raleigh Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee.

Prince’s group will take seven buses north from Raleigh to Washington, D.C. Monday. Statewide, the group has 28 buses transporting 1,700 people.