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Traffic Congestion and Highway Construction

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Ok, I admit...I wasn't a math major in college, but explain to me how building a $60 million toll road that only generates $20 million in 30 years makes ANY kind of sense? It will only further frustrate drivers on 77.

..and I'm not a math major either but I guess the expansion of 485 in Ballantyne employs some higher math principals given the these two recent statements: 1) "Huntersville transportation planner Bill Coxe, who has taken part in years of HOT-lane discussions and planning, explains it this way: Yes, you could just add a regular lane, and probably for less money. "It would fill up," he says. "And then what are you going to do?" An interstate lane can carry about 2,000 vehicles an hour, Coxe says. If it carries more, it clogs. ( Clt Obs. 5/15 )

2) Bissell Companies plans to spend $11 million to improve roads as part of a major expansion of Ballantyne Corporate Park. The expansion could bring as many as 4,000 jobs to the park, said Ned Curran, president of Bissell Companies. (CLT Obs 5/13 )

So there will be an additional 4000 autos coming into work in Ballantyne, most of which I would think will be via I-485; with the added lane(s) only able to accomodate 2,000 autos each ??? Am I missing something here? Or has Smokey Bissell been smoking something with NCDOT?

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/13/2293858/traffic-addressed-in-ballantyne.html#storylink=misearch#ixzz1Mtp80RPF

Read more: http://www.charlotte...h#ixzz1MtkNDDIO

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However, the I-26 Connector in Asheville - also in NCDOT Division 13 - receives no funding before 2020 for the 100,000 vehicles that use the Smoky Park Bridges daily.

Am I missing something?

The I-26 connector project in Asheville scores poorly because it includes a $100 million interchange rebuild at I-40/I-26, and an expensive and controversial widening through W. Asheville. There was some talk about splitting the project up so that new French Broad River bridges, which are the most important parts, can be funded/built first, and the widening and interchange can be done later.

Another consideration is that funds for loop projects (which is how the 26 connector is classified, don't ask me why) are a separate pot of money. Funding from the 221 widening could not be diverted to I-26 in Asheville for this reason (it could, however, be used to cover something like widening I-26 from Asheville to Hendersonville.)

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From that story:

"

"It's not a secret that congestion on Johnston Road to get onto 485 is terrible. By giving people an alternate route to the interstate, we hope to ease some of that concern."

Curran said the company will work with the N.C. Department of Transportation to pay for the bridge on North Community House Road during the state's project to widen I-485 in 2014.

"

I've read in the past that the flyover on-ramp from Jonston Rd (northbound) to 485 (westbound) is part of the 485 widening. Does anyone know if that flyover is still part of the widening, now that the widening has been accelerated? The Community House bridge over 485 is fun and all, but the flyover would pretty much solve the problems at the interchange.

Edit: Okay, some googling tells me that, yes, the flyover is still part of the plan. Hmm.

Edited by grodney

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From that story:

"

"It's not a secret that congestion on Johnston Road to get onto 485 is terrible. By giving people an alternate route to the interstate, we hope to ease some of that concern."

Curran said the company will work with the N.C. Department of Transportation to pay for the bridge on North Community House Road during the state's project to widen I-485 in 2014.

"

I've read in the past that the flyover on-ramp from Jonston Rd (northbound) to 485 (westbound) is part of the 485 widening. Does anyone know if that flyover is still part of the widening, now that the widening has been accelerated? The Community House bridge over 485 is fun and all, but the flyover would pretty much solve the problems at the interchange.

Edit: Okay, some googling tells me that, yes, the flyover is still part of the plan. Hmm.

If you're implying that a new Community House bridge will significantly alleviate 4000 new vehicle trips into Ballantyne, I've got news for you. 485's widening will be obsolete before it's finished (again)...

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The I-26 connector project in Asheville scores poorly because it includes a $100 million interchange rebuild at I-40/I-26, and an expensive and controversial widening through W. Asheville. There was some talk about splitting the project up so that new French Broad River bridges, which are the most important parts, can be funded/built first, and the widening and interchange can be done later.

Another consideration is that funds for loop projects (which is how the 26 connector is classified, don't ask me why) are a separate pot of money. Funding from the 221 widening could not be diverted to I-26 in Asheville for this reason (it could, however, be used to cover something like widening I-26 from Asheville to Hendersonville.)

I know it's not that simple and that there are various forms of funding. The point is that it's frustrating when there are so many desperately needed projects across the state (such as I-77 through Charlotte) that get delayed for years because "there's no funding." Obviously there is when they're planning on widening every rural two-lane road to nowhere. It's just a matter of where and how they choose to spend the funds. Their past and current habits are not sustainable.

NCDOT needs to make some serious adjustments to its funding distribution, equity formula, etc. if they don't want the state's roads to continue falling apart and becoming more congested. However, I will give them some much deserved credit for what they've done the past few years. They've done a lot of work to get the Yadkin River bridge project going, as well as finishing I-485 and widening I-85.

But there is still a LOT of work to be done, especially with the sources of revenue evaporating.

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Well, let's go to the western part of the state this time.

U.S. 221, South Carolina line to south of Marion. Two sections are under construction from South Carolina to north of U.S. 74 (11.1 miles of two-lanes to four-lanes divided, $56,293,246.07 in contracts). Other sections are scheduled for funding between 2016-2020, or are scheduled for reprioritization in 2012. Total cost for all sections: $540,741,000. Maximum 2009 AADT: 8,300 vehicles.

post-16014-0-63606500-1305863600_thumb.j

However, the I-26 Connector in Asheville - also in NCDOT Division 13 - receives no funding before 2020 for the 100,000 vehicles that use the Smoky Park Bridges daily.

Am I missing something?

Actually, you are missing something. Take a moment to go to the I-26 Connector Webpage...read the EIS and note the environmental struggles that this project is having. Between the Clean Air Act, Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Section 4(f) of the 1966 USDOT Act, the Clean Water Act, Civil Rights Act, etc,etc...not to mention that the project is in the middle of a city. Building this project is no easy task. Right of way costs for the I-26 Connector are going to be ridiculous. Construction staging and traffic control to keep traffic moving during constructions makes the project cost that much more. You have to get permits to cross the French Broad River....Buy-in for the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative from the Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Highway Administration, Historic Preservation Office, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the French Broad Metropolitan Planning Organization, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Division of Water Quality. There is still a lot of planning work and preliminary...and finaldesign just to be able to go to right of way and construction.

In order to build any transportation project, you've got to look out for endangered species, meet air quality standards, minimize harm to drinking water sources and aquatic animal habitat, avoid parks and recreation areas, miss historic properties, minimize community disruption, coordinate with local transportation plans, minimize disruptions of hazardous material sites, and keep construction costs reasonable so it can actually be built. Not to mention insuring that low-income and minority populations are not disproportionately impacted.

Now...with all those considerations and limited highway funds...go forth, plan, and build.

In regards to the US 221 projects. Though the traffic volumes aren't as high as other roads...US 221 is a major trucking corridor for eastern Appalachian Counties of NC. The drive is treacherous...with steep grades, terrible sight distances, and sharp curves. The estimates are high due to the nature of the terrain. Alot of bridges and culverts will be required. Also, a lot earth moving will be required to be done in order to lengthen curves, lower grades and facilitate a wider and safer facility.

Though congestion and safety are always major considerations in funding. Each region still gets to prioritize their projects and thus they get added to the State Plan. Without some type of equity formula, the Triad, Triangle, and Metrolina would receive 90% of the highway funds and the state road network would be crap except in the metros.

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I know it's not that simple and that there are various forms of funding. The point is that it's frustrating when there are so many desperately needed projects across the state (such as I-77 through Charlotte) that get delayed for years because "there's no funding." Obviously there is when they're planning on widening every rural two-lane road to nowhere. It's just a matter of where and how they choose to spend the funds. Their past and current habits are not sustainable.

NCDOT needs to make some serious adjustments to its funding distribution, equity formula, etc. if they don't want the state's roads to continue falling apart and becoming more congested. However, I will give them some much deserved credit for what they've done the past few years. They've done a lot of work to get the Yadkin River bridge project going, as well as finishing I-485 and widening I-85.

But there is still a LOT of work to be done, especially with the sources of revenue evaporating.

At the end of the day, the legislature controls the future of the Equity Formula.

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At the end of the day, the legislature controls the future of the Equity Formula.

That's a shame, luckily NC's growth pattern is beginning to be more urbanized and that will mean urban centers will get more delegates to the General Assembly in future censuses. Then after that, NC transportation projects will continue to get even more political, and urban versus rural. The equity formula needs to be abolished and counties and cities should have more authority to take over state maintained roads. NC has the most state operated roads by mileage after Texas, and Texas is more populated and larger geographically.

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In regards to the US 221 projects. Though the traffic volumes aren't as high as other roads...US 221 is a major trucking corridor for eastern Appalachian Counties of NC. The drive is treacherous...with steep grades, terrible sight distances, and sharp curves. The estimates are high due to the nature of the terrain. Alot of bridges and culverts will be required. Also, a lot earth moving will be required to be done in order to lengthen curves, lower grades and facilitate a wider and safer facility.

The projects listed are not in the mountains, though the projects through northern McDowell, Avery and Watauga will probably cost an additional half-billion dollars and destroy some beautiful land.

I drove U.S. 221 from Rutherfordton to Boone more times than I'd care to remember when I attended Appalachian State University. The section from Rutherfordton to Marion is mostly flat and straight with very little traffic.

I'm not saying it doesn't need safety improvements. NCDOT just goes over the top with these rural roads and spends hundreds of millions of dollars more than is necessary for a small amount of traffic. They always go from two-lanes to four-lanes divided, with nothing in between. There is never a lower cost or lower impact solution, such as simply adding turning and deceleration lanes at intersections. They could even construct four-lanes for dedicated passing zones every few miles rather than widening the entire route (like we're doing for high-speed rail). I'm willing to bet that you can get the same time savings and safety improvements using those methods, while saving many millions of dollars.

Edited by cowboy_wilhelm

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I apologize for getting this Charlotte thread onto an Asheville project.

In the most recent STIP, the I-26 Connector was scheduled for right-of-way acquisition this year, with construction beginning in 2013. Then it got lumped in with the urban loop funding pot and was scored low due to the high costs and low benefits of the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange reconfiguration and widening I-240 to eight lanes through West Asheville. Now it's estimated it will be after 2020 before funding is available for a project in Western North Carolina's largest city that has been in the planning stages for two decades. Yet there is half a billion dollars available from another source to widen a quiet country road over the next decade.

It still makes ZERO sense. How many needed projects get delayed and go unfunded because the money goes elsewhere for over-the-top projects?

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If you're implying that a new Community House bridge will significantly alleviate 4000 new vehicle trips into Ballantyne, I've got news for you. 485's widening will be obsolete before it's finished (again)...

No, not at all. I was saying:

- The flyover entrance from 521 north to 485 west will certainly reduce congestion on 521 and in Ballantyne.

- The story strongly implies that the Community House bridge is being built to reduce congestion at the 521 interchange.

- Building the Community House bridge at the same time as the flyover, while cool, seems to be a waste of money, since congestion will already be significantly reduced by the flyover.

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The Senate is attempting to kill the Garden Parkway and cut off state funds to the Blue Line extension and Red Line, among other things.

GOP senators would slash rail transit and toll road projects, but they might not cap gas tax - The News & Observer

sighhh...This is typical. Charlotte and the whole metro area should just secede from NC and become its own state. Raleigh certainly doesnt care about what's going on down here.

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It is my understanding that the Garden Parkway is basically a development project pushed by connected land owners and developers to enable sprawl at its interchanges, and that it doesn't solve any substantial existing transportation problem.

I'd rather then money they pull from the GP go to other more worthy projects in the Charlotte area, but at least as a non-Charlotte resident, even if it means less money spent in urban areas, I'm glad to see the GP facing the axe.

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The House's version of the budget keeps both the Garden Parkway and Blue Line Extension. Sounds like room for compromise with the Senate to cut the turnpike, but not transit.

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sighhh...This is typical. Charlotte and the whole metro area should just secede from NC and become its own state. Raleigh certainly doesnt care about what's going on down here.

Wrong....The lion's share of current and future transportation dollars and projects are all in the Metrolina region.

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Wrong....The lion's share of current and future transportation dollars and projects are all in the Metrolina region.

Thanks for the correction. Unfortunately the projects are ten years late. Does it really take 25 years to build a 63 mile outerbelt? With the NCDOT...yes it does.

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Thanks for the correction. Unfortunately the projects are ten years late. Does it really take 25 years to build a 63 mile outerbelt? With the NCDOT...yes it does.

Well Raleigh's 23 mile long Beltline is merely an arc joined to I-40 at each end, and of course you know that Raleigh's outerloop will be 60% a toll road. A quite expensive one at that, about 20-30 cents per mile for 18 miles (the final eastern I-540 segment has yet to be finalized).

The Triad seems to have the most roads despite ranking 3rd in metro population.

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I believe the Triad's freeway network is that intensive and massive because its local and state leaders anticipated the FedEx Mid-Atlantic Hub being built and needed the infrastructure to be able to accommodate the Triad as a logistic hub. However, the FedEx Hub isn't being used to its full potential. When I say Triad's freeway network, it's really just Greensboro and High Point. Winston-Salem is lagging behind Greensboro, US 52 and Business 40 are quite dangerous due to its age and highway building standards from the 1960s and 70s.

North Carolina seems to be the only state I've been in that doesn't have any elaborate highway designs or interchanges. I-77 and I-485 in South Charlotte is probably will be the only one in that scale for decades. I-85 and I-485 in University will no longer be a stack interchange and I'm disappointed, but the new design is cheaper.

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North Carolina seems to be the only state I've been in that doesn't have any elaborate highway designs or interchanges. I-77 and I-485 in South Charlotte is probably will be the only one in that scale for decades. I-85 and I-485 in University will no longer be a stack interchange and I'm disappointed, but the new design is cheaper.

I agree, the scale of the new interchange won't be as grand as I had hoped. But in terms of efficiency and cost, it really makes complete sense to do it the way they are. The taxpayer gets a much better bargain this way, for perhaps a better product, just won't be as flashy. I had hoped for some small bodies of water to accent the interchange like the 9A/I-95 interchange in Jacksonville, FL which is also three tiers. This part of the state really lacks use of water in road design and runoff control.

I AM happy that the state is thinking outside the box for a change and incorporating these new ideas into the expansion of I-85. Between the interchange and the exit redesigns at exit 52 and 55, I like knowing that NCDOT is becoming more accepting of less conventional designs.

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^ I'm sure NCDOT will plant some wildflowers there...it always does somewhere along our Interstate system. NCDOT is more accepting of less conventional designs because it is one of the last few state DOTs to finally allowed design-build contracts (I-77 Widening in 2003 was the first design-build project in our area) and that allows contractors to be more creative. NCDOT proposed a stack interchange at I-485 and I-85, but a contractor came up with the new turbine design instead and it came to $50 million cheaper.

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What I don't understand is how Texas is able to build (almost literally) hundreds of fancy interchanges with umpteen flyovers, as if they were nothing.... Meanwhile Georgia and NC will go decades without a necessary and important flyover between two highways because they didn't have the extra $30 million that one flyover would cost.

On Metro Atlanta's wishlist for transportation projects that 10 counties will vote for or against a 1 cent sales tax next year, is an "improvement" to the I-285/ GA400 interchange. Its projected cost is $500 million for the one interchange.

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What I don't understand is how Texas is able to build (almost literally) hundreds of fancy interchanges with umpteen flyovers, as if they were nothing.... Meanwhile Georgia and NC will go decades without a necessary and important flyover between two highways because they didn't have the extra $30 million that one flyover would cost.

On Metro Atlanta's wishlist for transportation projects that 10 counties will vote for or against a 1 cent sales tax next year, is an "improvement" to the I-285/ GA400 interchange. Its projected cost is $500 million for the one interchange.

Texas can keep their fancy flyovers. That's pretty much the only impressive thing about their cities.

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What I don't understand is how Texas is able to build (almost literally) hundreds of fancy interchanges with umpteen flyovers, as if they were nothing.... Meanwhile Georgia and NC will go decades without a necessary and important flyover between two highways because they didn't have the extra $30 million that one flyover would cost.

What's necessary about the flyover when compared to the turbine design? The turbine design's only major setback is the amount of land it uses. That's a moot point in this scenario as the northern 85/485 area has basically nothing anywhere near it, so it makes perfect sense. The turbine design was made with efficiency and cost in mind. It just isn't as pretty from the ground (but arguably much cooler from above.)

EDIT: grammar

Edited by AuLukey

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What's necessary about the flyover when compared to the turbine design? The turbine design's only major setback is the amount of land it uses. That's a moot point in this scenario as the northern 85/485 area has basically nothing anywhere near it, so it makes perfect sense. The turbine design was made with efficiency and cost in mind. It just isn't as pretty from the ground (but arguably much cooler from above.)

EDIT: grammar

My comment about flyovers didn't pertain to the turbine proposed for I-485/I-85.

Raleigh has countless interchanges that need left flyovers as opposed to the old-fashioned cloverleafs. Some examples include the I-40 interchanges at RDU Intl Airport, Wade Ave at I-440, etc.

Charlotte's I-77/I-85 interchange needs its ramps rebuilt with more gentle curves, yet NCDOT never has enough money to do these things. The state's spread out population evidently spreads out needs as well (too thinly, unfortunately).

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