Spend pennies to save minutes on I-40 – tonight

RTA members and partners,

In our prior Thursday Thoughts at 3 blogs, I have mentioned the importance of I-40 and some ongoing and upcoming projects. Last week I noted that we were launching our Let’s Make I-40 Better initiative, including our Regional Travel Experience Action Team which will focus on potential improvements in the RTP area.

One concept that has been previously discussed is the addition of  new express lanes serving I-40. These would be optional, parallel lanes that would provide a faster and more reliable trip for those willing to pay a toll. Those not paying would also benefit by having others use the new lanes.

Unfortunately, new dedicated express lanes are very expensive, not funded, and there is no current plan to implement them. I expect the new Let’s Make I-40 Better action team will look at ways to jump start them, or a version of them, along with other ideas.

Fortunately, there is a way you can effectively create your own express lane – today – and potentially save several minutes off of your evening commute. And you can do this for under $1. 

If you are heading towards Raleigh from Chapel Hill or southern Durham, instead of traveling on I-40 east through RTP, take the Triangle Expressway/Toll 147 south about 2 miles until it meets 540, and then get on 540 east.  At that point, you can follow 540 for two miles until you return to I-40 east, or just keep I-540 east if you are heading to north Raleigh.

NCDOT did a quick study of comparative travel times in response to an RTA request last month. They found that speeds were often 20 MPH faster (68 vs. 47)  and travel times were shorter (7 minutes vs. 4) via this 147 to 540 “bypass”, even thought it was around two miles longer. The impromptu study was conducted in the latter half of December when many kids were off of school, so there are certainly days where the time savings would be even better.

Your cost for using this 147 south to 540 east Turnpike “bypass”?  Only $0.84 with an NC QuickPass transponder (which you can get for free here). Or pay the $1.24 bill-by-mail rate and receive an invoice based on your license plate after you travel.

You don’t have to use this option every day, but it’s nice to note that it exists when you need it. Feel free to tell or remind your associates and friends. Even better, we don’t have to come up with a multi-year advocacy, planning, and funding strategy to create a new RTP express lane system — this option exists today, thanks to the NC Turnpike Authority.

In upcoming weeks — still more on I-40, and other ways to keep the region moving.

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director


post reference: th3.2019.04




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