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Three lanes bad, two lanes better?
NCDOT says its traffic engineers will launch an experiment, starting Sunday, to see if they can make westbound I-40 run more smoothly at rush hour by slimming it from three lanes to two lanes near the U.S. 70 Clayton Bypass. What do you think? [9/14 update: see today's story.]
Westbound I-40 swells from two to three lanes as it approaches the U.S. 70 interchange (Exit 309) in southeastern Wake County. During the morning rush, lots of drivers move into that new outside lane and speed ahead. But this third lane disappears after about two miles, causing a regular rush-hour bottleneck when drivers struggle to merge back into the original two lanes.
So the question to be tested is: Would the morning traffic flow more smoothly without that temporary third lane?
To find out, DOT crews will use paint stripes and orange barrels to shift both lanes of westbound I-40 traffic one lane to the right. This means moving I-40 drivers into that new outside lane for two miles -- and forcing them out of the inside lane for the same stretch -- so I-40 stays just two lanes wide the whole way.
I-40 commuters, what do you think about this idea? I'd like to hear from you by phone (919-829-4527) or email. Don't forget to include your name and daytime phone number.
About 4,100 cars and trucks pass through that stretch of I-40 during the weekday morning rush, with another 1,000 vehicles using the Clayton Bypass ramp at the same time.
DOT engineers will monitor traffic patterns for a few weeks to see whether the change improves the heavy rush-hour flow. Then they'll decide whether to make the change permanent.
I-40 continues at two lanes wide for another three miles to the U.S. 70 Business interchange (Exit 306), and there it widens permanently to three lanes. DOT planners are working on a project to widen I-40 starting before the Clayton Bypass (Exit 306), but that construction is years in the future.