State and local transportation planners will host a community meeting Thursday evening, July 16, to air their ideas for speeding up traffic on a clogged hunk of U.S. 64 between Cary and Pittsboro.
The event takes place at Green Hope High School, 2500 Carpenter Upchurch Road, Cary, starting with a formal presentation at 6:30 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m.
Read up on DOT ideas at www.ncdot.gov/~us64study/. Click "transportation solutions" and then "short-term improvements" to see what they have in mind. A group of Cary and Apex residents who have qualms about DOT plans have their own website at www.save64.org.
And let me know if you're interested in this. Are you a U.S. 64 commuter? How's the drive? Please e-mail me or call me at 919-829-4527. Don't forget to include your daytime contact info so I can reach you Monday.
State DOT planners propose to turn U.S. 64 into a "Superstreet," installing new-fangled traffic loops at intersections that have traffic signals now. The idea is similar (with differences) to the Chapel Hill superstreet that has virtually eliminated traffic backups on U.S. 15-501 at its intersection with Europa Drive / Old Erwin Road.
Here's how it would work: Travel would not change for drivers on U.S. 64. But it would be different for drivers entering U.S. 64 from side streets such as Laura Duncan and Lake Pine roads. They would no longer be able to drive across or turn left onto U.S. 64. Instead, to do that, they would have to turn right on U.S. 64 and then make a U-turn across the median, protected by an additional traffic light.
Through traffic on U.S. 64 now gets only about 35 percent of the green-light time at every intersection. That's right: most of the traffic at the intersection gets green lights only one-third of the time. That's why rush hour is getting to be such a pain on this road.
The rest of the time, U.S. 64 commuters see red while the green-light cycle shifts through (1) left-turn off U.S. 64 to (2) straight-through from side roads to (3) left-turn off side roads, and finally (4) back to through traffic on U.S. 64. This whole cycle takes nearly 3 minutes.
By eliminating green-light time for side-street drivers who want to go straight or turn left, the new layout would roughly double the green-light time for through traffic on U.S. 64, and cut the entire traffic signal cycle time in half.
That means side street drivers would wait half as long for the light to turn green, and then they would have a little extra driving to do -- turn right, make a U-turn and come back -- if they wanted to drive across or turn left onto U.S. 64.
DOT explains Superstreets here.
Traffic engineers say the changes are needed to ease rush-hour congestion and keep U.S. 64 from turning into a nightmare like Capital Boulevard in northern Wake County. In the future, maybe around 2035, DOT says it probably will be necessary to turn this part of U.S. 64 into a freeway -- converting side streets to overpasses and interchanges.
What do you think? Let me hear from you now, and let DOT hear from you Thursday.