Commuters Could See Relief on I-40 Stretch

Posted May 18, 2007 2:19 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2007 6:20 p.m. EDT

— Relief could be coming within the next few years to some commuters along a five-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Wake County.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a consortium of local leaders in the county, voted unanimously this week to make widening the roadway from U.S. Highway 1 to Wade Avenue its top priority for the next fiscal year.

About 100,000 vehicles get stuck in the traffic every commuting day in the problem area, because it goes from three-lanes to two.

"The mayors in Wake County just saw this as being a major problem that needed to be resolved," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Friday. "It could be resolved pretty quickly, so that's the reason it's at the top of the CAMPO list."

Department of Transportation officials said the project could take two years or less to complete, partly because of the wide grass median that separates the eastbound lanes from the westbound lanes.

The stretch has no utilities to move, no rights-of-way to buy. The landscape, road engineers said, could save time and money. It would still cost an estimated $32 million, the DOT said.

But even though the proposal to widen I-40 on each side is a priority, it must go to the DOT for approval before the funding request goes to the General Assembly.

Then, it would be among proposed projects across a seven-county area. If approved, money would come from the Highway Trust Fund and construction could start by in 2009 with new lanes by 2011.