Neighbors pan state plan for Falls of Neuse Road near I-540

(CBS North Carolina)

NORTH RALEIGH (WNCN) — The North Carolina Department of Transportation is proposing an expansion of the strectch of Falls of Neuse between Durant Road and Interstate 540. Neighbor after neighbor expressed opposition to that plan at a citizens advisory council meeting Tuesday night.

State Department of Transportation officials said the plan was a matter of safety and easing congestion.

“We are landlocked at the Muirfield side because we cannot cross that street,” one neighbor said.

“The chart showed improving Falls of Neuse would increase the traffic on Falls of the Neuse, it went from 50-something to 60-something. Why would I want you to improve it, if its just going to encourage more people to drive on it?” another neighbor asked.

State officials found that over the last five years there have been 446 crashes. They also predict that the number of cars traveling that stretch of road will almost double by 2040.

They want to expand the road from four lanes to six and add a raised median.

“We don’t take these things lightly. There are plans and projects that are developed and created over several years,” Ben Upshaw, the state’s Project Engineer said.

“This project, no matter how you look at it, does not truly address the problem,” Lillian Overton, a nearby homeowner said.

Neighbors said the back-ups are caused by I-540, specifically delays getting onto the highway. They also told CBS North Carolina that Falls of Neuse has become a cut-through for drivers looking to avoid the intersection of Highway 98 and Capital Boulevard.

“State transportation program does include other projects in this area. One being managed shoulders on I-540,” Upshaw said.

State officials estimate the project will cost about $12 million and take about a year and a half to complete.

Neighbors have started a petition opposing the project.

The public can weigh in through the end of the month by emailing Projects coordinators will then look over the plan and make a decision on it by the end of October. If it’s approved, officials said, construction would being in the fall of 2019.

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