Thursday, August 02, 2007

"When I-40 Is Closed"

Skip to the random thought

As I mentioned in a random thought, I-40 was shut down in both directions last Friday near the RDU airport due to a major accident. The accident happened around 100p, and I-40 eastbound wasn't re-opened until 600p or later. That's a problem for all of those people that take I-40 from Durham/RTP to Raleigh after work. (Like Amber and me!) I-40 carries four lanes of high-speed traffic home every day. But when I-40 is shut down, all these people have to get home somehow. So how do they get there? Here are some options, starting with the two obvious (and therefore, the worst) choices:

NC-54: NC-54 is a two-lane road that parallels I-40 to the south from RTP to Raleigh through Cary. Even on a good day, NC-54 backs up at traffic lights during rushhour. So I can only imagine what it was like on this day. Yuck.

US-70 (Glenwood Ave): Glenwood Ave parallels I-40 to the north. Unlike NC-54, it is a divided highway with four (sometimes six) lanes. But this was an obvious choice for commuters as it's a major road linking Durham and Raleigh, and it's one of the first exits off of I-540. But all of the traffic reports I heard reported "major ramp delays" at this exit, and delays on Glenwood Ave itself.

Well, I guess there are going to be delays no matter which way you go on a day like this. But there are some better ways to go than the obvious choices:

I-540 to wherever: If your eventual goal is I-40 southeast out of Raleigh, your best bet is I-540 to the end, then US-64 west to I-440 east to I-40. However, on this day, I-540 was the "everybody has to get off here" exit, so there were backups there too. But I bet that once you got on I-540, everything was fine. (As long as you didn't get off at Glenwood.) Actually, taking I-540 to the first eastbound exit (Aviation Pkwy), and taking Aviation to I-40, might have been the best way to go. (Ignoring traffic concerns, it certainly would have been the best way to go.) But thousands of others may have been thinking the same thing, so who knows.

NC-55 to US-64: This is how I went home. It's a pretty good way to get around I-40. Of course, it was far more crowded this day, but the only real problem was turning left onto US-64 (which heads through southern Cary, and eventually leads back to I-40). I might have waited in the left-turn line for over 15 minutes if I wasn't a jerk and cut in front of someone. (Normally I don't do that sort of thing, but everything was a little different that day.)

NC-55 to something prior to US-64: There are many roads that head east from NC-55 into Cary. Amber took one of them (High House Rd), which she said she was on for 15-20 minutes between NC-55 and Cary Pkwy (something that normally takes 5 minutes). All things considered, that's not too bad, considering that four high-speed lanes of transit between Durham and Raleigh (Cary) were closed.

Davis Dr: Davis parallels NC-55 to the east. I've found that if you're going all the way to US-64, NC-55 is better than Davis Dr, because much of Davis is two lanes. If you're only going to High House Rd, though, it's fine. But I expect the extra traffic load this road got last Friday was overwhelming, and too much for a two-lane road. It might have even had more traffic than NC-55, because it's easier to get to Davis Dr from I-40 and the Durham Freeway than it is to get to NC-55.

Well, regardless of which route you take in a situation like this, it's going to be obscenely crowded. That's just the way it is. In general, I think if you avoid the two most obvious routes, and any potential one-lane logjams (such as the left turn from NC-55 to US-64), you'll be fine. Ah, there's nothing like the work commute...

Last Year: "Benson, NC". It still baffles me that there's a statue of a guy named Benton in downtown Benson.

Tomorrow: "Arlington Speedway". Don't worry, this post has nothing to do with NASCAR, or any other form of auto racing.

Today's random thought:

- I always put together a shopping list when we go to Kroger. But this week, on my way from the apartment to the store, somehow I lost the list, so I had to do the shopping from memory. How did I do? Well, I remembered everything except for the brown lunch bags. So, after I run out, I'll have to use some other form of lunch bag. I generally have a hard time remembering the non-food items without the aid of a list. But one thing's for sure - without the list, I always forget something.

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