Friday, December 09, 2011

The Triangle Parkway

You know me. Whenever a new road or highway opens nearby, I have to drive it as soon as possible. Yesterday, part of the Triangle Expressway - which connects I-40 with I-540 in Research Triangle Park - opened up. (Here is a map from NCDOT. The section of the TriEx that opened yesterday is Toll 147 between '1' and '5'; this section is also known as the "Triangle Parkway".) This new freeway practically begins right behind my office building, which meant I felt obligated to take it the day it opened.

In fact, I tried to go there the hour it opened, but I was a little early.


I had read on Twitter that the road was "officially" open. Whoops! I guess the orange barrels and barricades didn't all just magically disappear when the clock struck 10:30. No big deal; I just came back after the end of my work day, at which point I drove the entire 3.4 miles of the Triangle Parkway...twice! Once in each direction.


If I hadn't done it in both directions, then I wouldn't have noticed that the combined Davis Drive/Hopson Road exit (one exit serving two roads) has a different exit number northbound (2) and southbound (3). I guess that makes sense, given that Davis Drive and Hopson Road are about a mile apart...but still. I thought it was interesting.

I also looked for other signage oddities, because that's what I do. I can't help it. For example, the speed limit on the TriEx is 65 mph, but they have yet to remove the now obsolete "Reduced Speed Ahead" sign on southbound Durham Freeway approaching the beginning of the TriEx. Also, as Brian LeBlanc (still the best traffic reporter ever, although he's since moved on) pointed out to me at the Triangle Expressway Trot, according to this sign, the NC 147/540 interchange at the south end of the Triangle Parkway is where NC-540 changes designation from north/south to east/west.

And, one more thing I noticed. There are some hanging and/or unfinished ramps at the NC 147/540 interchange. Why? Well...I don't have a picture, but on my bike rides, I've seen a sign at the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Town Hall Drive in Morrisville that says something to the effect of, "Eventually, a ramp will connect this intersection directly with the Triangle Expressway". Anyone know anything about this? It's been a while since I've been down that way, so I'm going to bike there tomorrow morning and see if that sign is still there, or what else I can find. But in the meantime, I found a six-month-old message board discussion regarding the extension to McCrimmon/Town Hall. Based on that discussion, the hanging ramps at 147/540 are indeed for a possible extension to McCrimmon Parkway...BUT, the extension likely won't actually be built any time soon, if ever.

So, this is great and all, but is this road really going to help me? Directly, no. It's a north/south road located east of my house, and therefore, I'll never really have a reason to take it. And since it is a toll road, I'm not likely to take it just "for fun". (Aside from yesterday, of course. Tolls start January 3rd, so yesterday's joy ride was free.) But if the TriEx's existence means less traffic on T.W. Alexander Drive through Research Triangle Park (where my job is) - which, it might - then this road will help me indirectly. Alexander Drive traffic went up when the southern tip of the Durham Freeway closed (to facilitate TriEx construction), so will it go back down again now? We'll see.

1 comment:

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