Raleigh could adjust some traffic signals as Fortify delays build

Posted July 1, 2015 12:20 p.m. EDT

DOT: Fortify lane shifts, reductions will cause big delays by summer's end

— Crews rebuilding Interstate 40 in south Raleigh will take a break late in the week for the Fourth of July, but lane closures, reductions and more traffic in the Fortify zone will arrive soon after the holiday weekend.

Lane shifts and reductions in the work zone will be completed from the U.S. Highway 1 interchange in Cary to the I-40/Interstate 440 split by the end of the month, setting up a traffic pattern that will be in place for at least a year and a half.

At that point, state Department of Transportation officials expect 30-minute delays in each direction of I-40, even when travel conditions are ideal.

DOT officials want local traffic to use I-440 as an alternate route, but a lot of local drivers might use other alternate routes such as Tryon Road.

The two-lane road could become a popular alternative for commuters by August, and City of Raleigh engineers are trying to prepare for the increase.

"People are going to use (alternate routes) if they feel the mainline is oversaturated," Raleigh transportation operations director Jed Niffenegger said.

Niffenegger and his team watch cameras at intersections throughout the city, and they can adjust the timing of signals when patterns change.

"We watch closely on a daily basis to make sure the queues are clearing and the timing doesn't need to be adjusted," he said. "If it does, we'll make adjustments."

Niffenegger said the Fortify project has gone well to this point, but it's unclear how additional lane reductions will impact the overall traffic situation for Raleigh. Niffenegger said he hopes more drivers will consider using public transit.

"You can get 10 vehicles off the road riding one bus. It reduces congestion for everyone," he said.

Raleigh officials have adjusted traffic signals on South Saunders Street at the I-40 interchange, where DOT crews recently reconfigured on-ramps as part of the larger project.

Construction work will continue on I-40 through late 2016.