RTA members and partners,
In prior Thursday Thoughts at 3 blogs, I have noted that courage amidst uncertainty is our organization’s theme for 2019. Courage is just what we’ll need to address the future of I-40, and to find opportunities to enhance that corridor.
We all know that I-40 is the Triangle’s “main street,” and that it directly serves a number of key regional destinations, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Research Triangle Park, and RDU Airport. It is the region’s most vital linkage for commuting and commerce, as well as travel and tourism, and regional transit service.
We also know that I-40 works pretty well most of the time – but not all of the time – and that improvements and alternatives will be needed.
Some ongoing and upcoming projects will help. Underway are new ramp connector lanes between the 540, Airport Boulevard, and Aviation Parkway interchanges, which are being added simultaneously with improvements at those exchanges.
Also coming are an upgrade of the corridor to a fully managed freeway, with new on-ramp signals to smooth entries, as well as new digital overhead signage with real-time advisory speed limits. Plus, the conversion of part of US 70 to a freeway (west of 540) will greatly expand that vital parallel facility.
But these improvements will take several years to complete, and even those will not be enough — we will need new capacity and additional operational improvements to handle our growth. Unfortunately, there is no significant funding targeted for the most congested section of I-40 near the airport and RTP beyond the interchange improvements described above.
Today, RTA launches our “Let’s Make I-40 Better” initiative, which will commence with the creation of the RTA Regional Travel Experience Action Team for I-40 in the RTP Area.
The team will focus on the RTP interchanges area — the section between NC 147 (I-40 exit 279, future I-885) and I-540 (I-40 exit 283) — and explore potentially lower-cost or innovative options to improve the overall travel experience.
It is clear that both NCDOT and the regional business community understand the importance of I-40. RTA is committed to supporting NCDOT and other partners including area MPOs, transit agencies, municipalities and others to finding short- and longer-term ways to make it better.
More to come on this over the next few weeks, including a way you can shave several minutes off of your evening commute.
Until next Thursday,
Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director
post reference: th3.2019.03