Solutions Remain Elusive For I-40 Traffic Jam-Up

Posted March 21, 2007 9:49 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2007 10:09 a.m. EDT

— Drivers have been complaining about a section of Interstate 40 between Wade Avenue and U.S. Highway 1/64 for years. On Wednesday, Triangle and state leaders came to the table again looking for a solution.

The stretch of road has been described as a two-lane migraine. During any given rush hour, drivers say, it's not where you want to be.

“I try to avoid it at all costs,” said driver Charlane McGraw. “I'll take a different avenue, even if it takes me five minutes out of my way, just to get around it. It's just easier not to deal with it.”

While some motorists choose to avoid it, local leaders are trying to tackle the problem area head-on. At the top of their list is the fact that when the Department of Transportation updated its seven-year Transportation Improvement Plan last month. widening that stretch of roadway wasn't part of it.

After that, the Transportation Advisory Committee, which is made up of mayors, county commissioners and others around the Triangle, said they want the DOT to come up with a Plan B. They voted unanimously to speed up the process in getting something done about I-40.

“This is the main regional choke point,” said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

DOT leaders agreed the project is a high priority, but said there's just no money for it. That’s part of to a larger concern for Meeker. There are no road projects slated anywhere in the city over the next seven years.

“Raleigh and Wake County pay about $100 million a year in gas taxes, but only get in return $50 million to $60 million a year,” he said. “There's just a tremendous amount of frustration at the local level, given all the taxes being paid (and) the projects that aren't being built.”

Originally, the DOT looked at widening the area from four lanes to eight. The project, along with repairs, would cost about $60 million.

After Wednesday's meeting, DOT officials are going back to the drawing board and looking at widening it to six lanes. They said that would still ease congestion and be more affordable. But even the scaled-back plan, they said, would require funding they don't have.