The Department of Transportation is beginning some big project in the next few years. Not only will I-40 along the southern edge of Raleigh and the intersection of Jones Franklin and Western Boulevard be rebuilt, DOT is also in initial stages of a widening project for the oldest section of I-440, “The Beltline”.
The DOT will host a public workshop to discuss improvements to I-440 between Walnut Street and Wade Avenue on Monday, December 3 from 4pm-7pm. The meeting will take place at the Method Community Center, Pioneer Building (514 Method Road).
The stretch of highway is the last remaining 4-lane section of I-440, and features some dangerous intersections:
- Western Boulevard to I-440 W is a right merge into the I-440 passing lane
- Jones Franklin Road onto I-440 E has a very short acceleration lane
- I-440 W onto inbound Wade Avenue has a very short deceleration lane, and a tight, loop exit
- A short, uphill acceleration lane from Outbound Western Blvd onto I-440 E
- A cloverleaf pair of entrance/exit lanes on I-440 E at Western Blvd presenting in a short acceleration lane and a short acceleration lane, woven pair.
Challenges to the widening of this stretch include:
- A restrictive amount of land at the I-440/Western Blvd interchange
- Bridge overpasses by Melbourne Road, Athens Drive, and Jones Franklin Road that offer spans to short for widening. All three bridges will likely be replaced, which will solve the horribly dangerous pedestrian situation at Jones Franklin Road.
No doubt, the Western Boulevard interchange will be a complicated, expensive project. The solution will likely introduce at least one traffic signal to free-flowing traffic on Western Boulevard. Hopefully an inverted SPUI interchange will be implemented to minimize idle traffic times, but you know how traffic engineers have never met a red light they didn’t like.
The second challenge will be the Jones Franklin interchange. Jones Franklin will likely be widened south of I-440 in the moderate future, but the road crosses I-440 at an angle, and has a proximate intersection with Sumter Square apartments, complicating the intersection on the north side of the highway. A SPUI would not work here, unfortunately, so hopefully the Sumter Square access can be tied in with the exit ramp traffic from I-440 W.
For sure, there will be a lot of dirt and a lot of headaches in the coming years in southwest Raleigh. Hopefully engineers can design a solution that is not only safe, but also doesn’t create a heavy burden on traffic efficiency.
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