Sharp merge worries some Triangle Expressway drivers

Posted January 9, 2013 4:10 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2013 6:50 p.m. EST

— The newest stretch of the Triangle Expressway has been open for a few weeks, giving drivers in western Wake County a faster route to Durham and Research Triangle Park.

But there is a surprise at the end of the expressway – a sharp curve to merge onto N.C. Highway 55.

There is only one sign alerting drivers to the merge pattern, and no signs warn of the sharpness of the curve or tell drivers to slow down.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority said it has received some complaints from concerned drivers and is considering putting up more warning signs.

“I like having the bypass. I like it a whole lot,” said Ellen Tinsely, who frequently takes Interstate 540 South to the 55 Bypass in Holly Springs, then exits toward Fuquay-Varina.

“No traffic, wide-open lanes. It's beautiful,” she said. “No ruts or anything.”

Everything is fine, Tinsley says, “until you come over the top of the hill and you're at a hard right-hand turn.”

She said the curve took her by surprise the first time.

“I didn't know where the road was going from there,” she said. “I slammed on my brakes and stopped.”

Tinsley said she’s worried that it's an accident waiting to happen.

“If you miss that turn, you're going to T-bone into the traffic on Highway 55 East,” she said.

Jason Peterson, a project manager with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, said the exit is built to federal standards.

“We’ve had a couple of concerns since we’ve opened the road last month about the sharpness of that curve and the visibility,” he said.

Peterson said state engineers would make recommendations for more caution signs as soon as possible.

“We're going to call some attention to that to make sure folks see that as they approach the top of the hill coming off the ramp.”

Tinsley hopes the extra signs will go up quickly.

“I don't mind paying my tolls at all,” she said. “But I don't want to see somebody get hurt.”