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Traffic Congestion and Highway Construction

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14 hours ago, Nolan said:

The cancelled Garden Parkway was supposed to connect to 321 where the freeway section of 321 ends along with a new interchange west of the current I-85/321 interchange

Now it will get this convoluted value engineered interchange 

MapA-overview-page-001-FULL.jpg

 

While I'm disappointed that this is another case of "what can we cut corners on" with a major intersection, I am very glad to see that no longer will southbound 321 have to keep right to get on BOTH directions of 85. That was among the stupidest things the state has ever done in the Metrolina region and whomever cemented that as the original design should have been pink-slipped that very day.

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^On freeways, one usually stays right for all directions (left exits are rare). But freeways are free flow (no signals) and higher speed (wider curves). Southbound 321 to northbound 85 fails with all rights, due to long signals and a tight curve.  Thus, the shorter signal-timing and higher-speed geometry will make the new left from southbound 321 more efficient than all rights.  And ultimately, the shorter signal-timing is possible, due to the greatest reduction in congestion resulting from this design, which is replacing the left onto NORTHBOUND 321 from southbound 85 with a right turn.

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3 hours ago, southslider said:

^On freeways, one usually stays right for all directions (left exits are rare). But freeways are free flow (no signals) and higher speed (wider curves). Southbound 321 to northbound 85 fails with all rights, due to long signals and a tight curve.  Thus, the shorter signal-timing and higher-speed geometry will make the new left from southbound 321 more efficient than all rights.  And ultimately, the shorter signal-timing is possible, due to the greatest reduction in congestion resulting from this design, which is replacing the left onto NORTHBOUND 321 from southbound 85 with a right turn.

Yes, I thought it went without saying that 321 doesn't function like a freeway within those last few miles towards 85. But it does bear mentioning that the left turn onto 85 North is part of what will help, so that part of your post wasn't redundant.

I wonder at what point will growth near 321/85 outpace these fixes though, and I mean that without bias... It's hard to know, since Gastonia is the county seat of Gaston and attracts outmigrants in its own right due to jobs and established neighbourhoods, but also lacks the raw proximity of towns like Belmont and Mount Holly (where commute time decides a LOT of why those towns exploded in the past 10 years and also upfitted their downtown areas greatly). Time and the economic health of this metro will tell as we age.

Edited by Eightane
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On 5/14/2019 at 8:48 PM, KJHburg said:

^^ Here you go the traffic volumes on I-85 outside of immediate metro area are still very high and in places like Burlington between Greensboro and Durham it is as high as many places in Charlotte.  I-77 N of Statesville completely falls off in traffic volume. i-85 links Raleigh Durham, the Triad and Greenville Spartanburg metro to Charlotte not to mention Atlanta.

https://connect.ncdot.gov/resources/State-Mapping/Pages/Traffic-Volume-Maps.aspx

someone posted this before and click on the legend to see what the volume are.   Is I-77 an important north south corridor of course it is but I-85 is much more important and the traffic counts show it.

Thanks for posting (or reposting). Just to keep things simple, I'm just looking at Mecklenburg numbers. While the numbers are higher on parts of 85 than on parts of 77, 77 is 181,000 approaching uptown and stays at 100,000ish give or take to the Iredell County line. Certainly high enough to justify widening. Although some seem preoccupied with traffic from other areas, I hope no one is arguing that we should widen I-85 without toll lanes to take care of people from other states or metros rather than our own local population. I feel exactly the same way about I-77. The first consideration should be for the people who live in this area.

The notion that somehow people that live in northern Mecklenburg county are far-flung and somehow should be less of a focus than the people that live inside the city limits of Charlotte is ridiculous. I don't know anyone around here proposing that we widen 77 through Yadkin or Surry counties. Living in northern Mecklenburg county is not the equivalent of living in some far flung suburb. I guarantee I live in a more urban neighborhood then practically anyone on this board including the ones who live uptown. Simply stated, I can walk to restaurants, a movie theater, dry cleaners and other services, to church and to stores (real stores selling clothes, spring goods, books, etc), I do not commute to Charlotte for work as many who live in northern Mecklenburg do not. The idea that our road network shouldn't be as robust as it needs to be without charging tolls is just Urban snobbery. I certainly don't think the interstate should be widened without limit. I do think taxpayers in North Mecklenburg deserve more than two free lanes and have deserved those lanes for quite some time.

The fact that interstate 85 continues to be widened with free lanes is argument enough for what I'm saying. there is no justification for widening one and not both, unless you think we should be spending our tax dollars on people from Greensboro and Raleigh and Atlanta and Washington. Personally, I do not. Those are exactly the people that I would like to be paying tolls as they pass through, but contribute nothing to the local economy.

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I have to go up to Mooresville next week I might try them out depending on traffic flows.

As stated previously I hate toll roads however they are EVERYWHERE in this country now and more and more are being built.   Almost every new expressway in Florida is toll.

Here is the Biz Journal article about it

https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2019/05/31/section-of-i-77-toll-lanes-in-lake-norman-area.html

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4 hours ago, davidclt said:

While I'm not a fan of tolls, I'm curious, without raising the gas tax to pay for additional highway lanes on I-77, how should this be funded?

Just a sampling of "free" highway projects currently under construction or starting soon:

  • I-40 is being widened for 12 miles southeast of Raleigh ($360 M)
  • US 64 Asheboro bypass under construction ($244 M)
  • US 74 Shelby bypass under construction by section (~$250-$300 M)
  • US 17 Pollocksville & Maysville bypass ($143 M)
  • US 70 Havelock bypass later this year ($221 M)
  • I-26 widening southeast of Asheville starts this year ($415 M)
  • I-26 Connector in Asheville expected to start next year ($1 B)
  • I-95 widening starts next year ($700 M+)
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Interstate widening projects in Charlotte that will NOT be free

Tolled express lanes starting soon on I-485 from 77 to US 74

Tolled express lanes will apart of I-77 widening south of uptown

Tolled lanes will be a part of US 74 Independence and that is starting soon too where the existing bus lane is now which will be reversible then further out 1 lane in each direction

In Raleigh Completing the 540 loop in Raleigh will be all toll from Holly Springs back around to US 64 east of the city. 

Technically I-26 through Asheville and apart of I-240 is not even near Interstate standards and that is why it is shielded future I-26 through Asheville.   It is very outdated freeway system coming up from existing 26/40 interchange.  

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To expand on the toll road experience:

The toll road plazas or service areas of the 1950's had restaurants and auto service areas. The restaurants had servers wearing matching perky uniforms. Service areas had men with caps and uniforms to pump gas and check cars for proper operation. In my memory the cars on the toll road were newer than those seen on general purpose roads. For my family this type of travel was an event. Travelers dressed better then, though perhaps not as a function of the road itself.  In my opinion the toll plaza designers used railway stations as their guide since these plazas were for drivers in the 1950’s familiar with rail travel and services. This was a period when air travel was uncertain and infrequent yet expensive. Rail was too common and dated. For twenty years or so the grand toll highway was the future and then was overtaken by future itself. 

These plazas/rest areas had modern for the time design buildings, most (all?) replaced now but even now with modern appearance. Most now are concession run with conventional convenience stores and fast food. Nothing special about them at all.

A five minute search finds no photos of the original toll road plazas or rest areas. Which may be some statement itself.

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Not sure if this will work or not. The actual file sizes are too big to attach to the post, so hopefully, the links will work.  One video is heading southbound from exit 25 to exit 23 a couple of hours after the toll lanes opened yesterday. The second video is heading northbound from the beginning of the toll lanes near Hambright Rd up to exit 25 around 3 pm.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Pd7dJEqV7ZZ9XPg9A

Anecdotally, I talked to one person yesterday who saw an accident at the merge of the toll lanes heading southbound around 11:30 am and I talked to a couple who said they were involved in a near accident at the merge near Cornelius with a car trying to leave the toll lanes. Around 5 pm yesterday as I was heading northbound just north of exit 28, a car that was traveling in the toll lanes wanted to move back to the general lanes but was blocked by a car in the fast lane of I-77. They were unable to exit and had to swerve back into the toll lanes as the dividing polls were just ahead. The car in the toll lane was from Florida (so I assume familiarity with the concept). Actually, 3 of the 7 cars I saw in the toll lanes on my three trips yesterday (yeah, 7 whole cars) were from Florida.

Edit: I forgot to mention, the traffic (esp. in the northbound video) is not great. I came to an almost complete stop a couple of times. So, this is not a case of why would someone pay when traffic is moving so freely in the general lanes. I'm sure use will increase as time goes on, but I hope not.

Edited by jednc
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Out by Charlotte's area other toll highway the Monroe Expressway today.  Got off at Stallings Rd exit because that is where I was going before tolls take place.  They are doing 2-3 lane one way access roads on either side in this area with U turns under the bridge just like is common all over Texas on their urban expressways.  I did see lots of vehicles in the left lanes heading to the toll bypass before I got off.  Today.  Toll road is elevated in this stretch which is about a mile or so before it turns left off the original US 74. 

 

One thing about the new 77 express lanes you will see many out of staters using it I am betting.  77 is major route for vacations to beaches of the south and Florida from western NY PA and Ohio.   And those states all have many toll roads.  Not to mention the northbound Floridians and Florida is covered with toll roads.

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Edited by KJHburg
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Are there any plans for development along the Monroe Expressway? It's a huge opportunity of easily developed land in Union County.

Edited by Cadi40

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So what does everyone think about removing excess lanes on the entire stretch of both 11th St and 12th St? 

Such an incredibly easy way to improve connection, albeit incremental. 

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1 hour ago, SgtCampsalot said:

So what does everyone think about removing excess lanes on the entire stretch of both 11th St and 12th St? 

Such an incredibly easy way to improve connection, albeit incremental. 

Not without reducing the number of ramps on and off 277.

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