Road Roundup: Get up to speed on major Wake projects

May 6, 2019

Residents have a chance on Monday to learn about some of the major projects NCDOT planners are putting on the calendar in Wake County.

The state is having a transportation open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the McKimmon Center on Gorman Street in Raleigh. This is not a formal presentation. You can drop by any time to talk directly with representatives from NCDOT about the projects.

NCDOT will give updates about nearly two dozen Raleigh-area projects that are either under development or construction, according to a press release. Some of the featured projects include:

Representatives from the City of Raleigh, GoRaleigh and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization will talk about city projects, the Wake Transit plan and other transportation issues, NCDOT said.

Another major project on the books in Wake County is widening I-40 between Lake Wheeler Road and the U.S. 1/64/I-440 interchange in southwest Raleigh. The project also would rebuild that confusing interchange.

A viewer sent me a note last week, wondering why the state did not include this in the big Fortify rebuilding project that started in 2013.

“It seems like they could of done it at the same time to save money,” the viewer wrote. “That project took five years and traffic is just getting back to normal, and now they want to pretty much do it all over again?”

I asked NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott why NCDOT did these as two separate projects. He said the proposed widening will require using property beyond the current right of way of I-40, which requires a lengthy process of purchasing land and conducting environmental studies. Abbott also said the crumbling pavement on the rebuilt section of I-40 in south Raleigh had become an expensive emergency situation.

“We were spending millions each year just patching it up to keep it safe,” he said. “There wasn’t time to wait another few years for the studies as 40 was in such bad shape.”

Abbott said the Fortify project added some extra capacity to that section of I-40 with new connector lanes between some of the exits.

The NCDOT said Wake County’s population of 1 million is expected to double by 2054, and traffic volumes on I-40 could increase as much as 70 percent in that time. The $179 million project could start in 2022 and finish in 2024.

You can learn more at a public meeting on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn on Columbus Avenue in Cary. NCDOT representatives will be there to talk about the proposal and get your feedback.