RALEIGH, N.C. — State Board of Transportation officials met Wednesday to discuss improvements along Interstate 40 to reduce congestion in some of the most traveled areas.
Among the changes, part of a seven-year DOT transportation improvement plan, would be widening I-40 to six lanes between Wade Avenue and U.S. Highway 1 in Raleigh.
The $32 million project is considered a short-term fix to manage bottlenecks created by the area's booming population. For the long-term, the DOT says eight to 10 lanes are needed.
"Deep down, you knew it would be an area that needed to be widened," Wally Bowman, an engineer with the DOT, said. "It's just a matter of the funding that's available for the many needs in the RTP area. There's just more needs than there is funding at this time."
Construction could begin as early as 2010 and would take about two years to complete.
The DOT also wants to add a second exit lane from southbound Interstate 540 to westbound I-40 near Research Triangle Park and an extra outer lane on westbound I-40 from RTP to Page Road.
The project is necessary, the DOT says, because traffic is far more than what was originally planned.
"The land use planning had changed," Bowman said. "A lot of development occurred in that area that greatly exceeded the traffic projections we had planned for the ramp movement."
The DOT also wants to begin planning to widen I-40 from Interstate 440 through southeastern Wake County to N.C. Highway 42 in Johnston County.
The final version of the plan will be available Thursday, when the full Transportation Board meets.