I-40 Lanes, Exit Lane on I-540 Added to DOT Priority List

Posted October 31, 2007 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 31, 2007 9:02 p.m. EDT

— The state Department of Transportation has added widening Interstate 40 in southwest Raleigh and a second exit lane off Interstate 540 at I-40 to its seven-year priority list, officials said Wednesday.

The two projects are among 10 that have been added to the latest draft of the annual Transportation Improvement Plan, which contains priority highway, ferry and aviation projects statewide over a seven-year period. Public hearings will be held on the TIP this winter before the plan is presented to the state Board of Transportation next summer.

The collector lane on I-540 would alleviate a bottleneck created this summer after the DOT opened a 4.5-mile extension of 540, called N.C. Highway 540, between I-40 and N.C. Highway 55.

The new highway was supposed to ease congestion and give drivers more options for getting into Research Triangle Park, but DOT eliminated one of two collector lanes for drivers planning to exit westbound I-540 at I-40, creating long backups during the morning commute.

The TIP also calls for adding an auxiliary lane to westbound I-40 between I-540 and Page Road to accommodate the merging traffic.

Right-of-way purchases would be funded in fiscal 2009, and construction would begin the following year, according to the draft plan.

I-40 also would get additional lanes between Wade Avenue in Raleigh and U.S. Highways 1/64 in Cary. Traffic is squeezed from three lanes to two lanes in both directions on the four-mile stretch.

A wide highway median could allow creating an extra westbound and an eastbound lane without much difficulty, officials have said. The draft TIP calls for construction to begin in 2010.