DOT Admits N.C. 540 Layout Causes New Traffic Headache

Posted July 19, 2007 9:10 p.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2007 5:15 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Department of Transportation on Thursday admitted it should have planned better to avoid new daily delays on Interstate 540 in Wake County.

The new extension of I-540 south of Interstate 40, called N.C. 540, was supposed to ease morning bottlenecking where I-540 connects with westbound I-40. It gives drivers more options for getting into Research Triangle Park.

But to accommodate new 540 lanes, engineers eliminated an exit lane, causing long lines on the exit ramp where vehicles are trying to exit for both east and west on I-40.

"I travel every highway at least once or twice a week with my job, and the new 540 – until it gets fixed and is easier to travel – it won't be a choice," said motorist Josh Miller.

Complaints about the I-40 interchange have been nonstop, and state Highway Administrator Bill Rosser admitted the DOT should have looked at ways to avoid the problem before now.

DOT engineers will now monitor the situation for at least a month, then will try to move forward with a solution.

"We're going to take a look at what do we do today to solve the problems of today," Rosser said.

Possible solutions include reinforcing the shoulder of the exit and building a new ramp. But one of the complicating factors, the DOT said, is that it is hemmed in by water.

"Can we do what we need to do if it's dictated?" Rosser said. "We need to do it after the traffic stabilizes. And we'll do that. We'll take a look at it."