RTA members and partners,

NCDOT has activated on-ramp signals for several I-540 entrance ramps this week. This is an exciting, needed pilot project for both our region and state, that the regional business community has supported from the very beginning through the RTA.

Since there are bound to be growing pains as both drivers and NCDOT get used to the technology, I encourage you to express support for on-ramp signals to your colleagues and neighbors.

Based on the experiences in other states, our primary benefits will likely be improved safety and enhanced travel time reliability – although I expect it may take several weeks to fully realize those benefits.

In addition to improvements to safety and reliability, I also expect that we will see decreased commutes for some trips – but not all trips, and not every day.

While on-ramp signals cannot create more rush hour capacity on 540, they can enable travelers to use more of the available freeway capacity, by delaying the onset of congestion on 540 or reducing the severity of that congestion. Either of those situations will also make things safer for everyone.

I visited the NCDOT operations center both this morning and yesterday morning at 6:15 a.m. to observe the signals for several hours via their live video feeds at all four ramps. I can tell you that NCDOT operations professionals actively reviewed cameras and worked to manage the signals to reduce backups. They already made progress, but there is more to do.

The regional business community can help ensure and accelerate the success of this needed initiative – here is how we can help:

  • If you have an opportunity to speak to colleagues this week, please note that the primary benefits are safety, enhanced travel time reliability, and a better-functioning 540 during rush hour.
  • If you can express support for the on-ramp signals to your neighbors and colleagues in terms of what this can do for improving our travel, that will be very helpful.
  • If you travel 540 westbound in the morning rush hour, and you experience either an easier time traveling on the 540 freeway itself, a harder time accessing 540 from the street network, or both – please let me know.

Finally – please encourage everyone to use both lanes on the on-ramps whenever the on-ramp signals are active. You will reduce backups, and you will also make your own commute faster, because you will arrive at the on-ramp signal more quickly. In addition, you will help teach your fellow travelers about this new technology by your actions.

I encourage us to support NCDOT and their work to bring this technology here as part of North Carolina’s first on-ramp signals pilot. But that support does not need to be unconditional – if there are problems that you observe during your travels, please let me know and I will compile and convey to our colleagues with the State. On-ramp signals have been successful in several other communities, and we need them to work here to make our overall system better. Let’s encourage and assist our colleagues at NCDOT as they bring this high-leverage, low-cost asset to to our market.

Thank you for your ongoing focus on regional mobility through the RTA.


Joe Milazzo II, PE
Executive Director
Regional Transportation Alliance
The voice of the regional business community on transportation