Accelerating a multimodal freeway
- December 21, 2023
- Posted by: Jacob Rigg
- Category: Blog
RTA members and partners,
Growing congestion, delays, and unpredictable travel times on US 1, in particular north of I-540, are causing increasing challenges for mobility, economic development, and quality of life for northern Wake and Franklin Co. residents, businesses, and visitors.
NCDOT has a plan to upgrade Capital Blvd. north of I-540 to a 10+ mile, 70 MPH freeway (STIP U-5307 A-D). When complete, there will be no stoplights, no left turns, and no driveways, saving travelers substantial time and stress.
If there are no improvements to US 1, projected 2035 peak period delays will be 12+ minutes at a single signalized intersection (e.g., Burlington Mills Rd.) and continue to worsen at other locations (e.g., 6 minutes at US 1-A / S. Main St.). However, with an upgrade to freeway, it will take less than 10 minutes to drive the entire signal-free, 10+ mile freeway from I-540 to Franklin County.
NCDOT’s recommended alternative design has recently been designated as the preferred alternative and the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA) for the corridor by the collaborative local, regional, state, and federal resource agencies.
However, while NCDOT has an excellent long-term solution for the corridor, the project has faced multiple delays due to issues such as a lack of funding, inflation, and competing other regional priorities.
Accelerating the transformation of Capital Boulevard north of I-540 into a multimodal freeway has been one of our organization’s highest priorities for many years. The project has been RTA’s highest top freeway priority since spring 2023.
A preliminary sketch-level analysis by the NC Turnpike Authority, requested by Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) staff, and in coordination with NCDOT Division 5 and RTA, indicates that toll revenue can accelerate the completion of the entire 10+ mile US 1 corridor from I-540 to Franklin County.
RTA endorsed the following position at the quarterly RTA Regional Leadership Team meeting this fall:
“RTA supports a study of dramatically accelerating the upgrade of US 1 between I-540 and Franklin Co. to a multimodal freeway using toll revenue.”
Business organizations and municipalities offering statements of support for a study to examine the potential of toll revenue to accelerate the upgrade of US 1 include the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Wake Forest, the Town of Franklinton, and RTA. Other organizations and communities are also considering offering formal statements of support.
We have developed draft FAQs on the acceleration opportunity here.
Using dedicated toll revenue to upgrade Capital Blvd north of 540 to a 6-lane, 70 MPH multimodal turnpike with dynamic transit priority shoulders will enhance mobility, safety, and accessibility, support commerce, and complement the S-line. We will encourage the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), the NC Turnpike Authority, and the NC Department of Transportation to carefully examine the opportunity to accelerate these improvements.
The upgrade of Capital Boulevard to a multimodal freeway between I-540 and Wake Forest will remain our top regional freeway priority until it is fully funded, committed, and on a glide path to construction.
Let’s get moving,
Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director