A new express bus route will give Johnston County commuters another option into downtown Raleigh.
The N.C. Department of Transportation will pay for the morning and afternoon route, designed to help decrease the number of cars on the road during the rebuild of Raleigh’s southern Beltline. Fortify, the DOT’s $130 million, three-year renovation of Interstate 40 and Interstate 440, is close to entering its second phase.
The first phase, from the I-40/440 split to U.S. 264, is nearly complete. Project spokeswoman Marla Doth said drivers have responded “beautifully” so far, taking alternate routes to help decrease traffic by 13 percent during construction. But the DOT is more concerned about the second phase, Doth said, which will stretch from the I-40/440 split to U.S. 1 in Cary.
“That is one of the most traveled arteries in the Triangle,” Doth said.
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U.S. Census data show that nearly 31,000 Johnston County residents travel to Wake or Durham counties to work. Doth said the DOT wants those drivers to consider other ways to work.
For those who work downtown, the express route will be an option. The bus, which will have six morning and six evening trips, will run from a “park and ride” lot at the Walmart shopping center in Clayton to Moore Square Transit Station in Raleigh.
The route, with departures every hour-half, will also stop at a park-and-ride lot in White Oak shopping center in Garner.
Triangle Transit is coordinating the route, but Capital Area Transit will operate it. Brad Schulz, a spokesman for Triangle Transit, said the group’s board of directors approved the new service in October.
Schulz said the route is expected to start Jan. 12, 2015, pending final park-and-ride agreements.
The new route will cost about $189,000, and Triangle Transit says funding is available through August 2016. Tge agency already runs a bus from Walmart in the Cleveland community to Moore Square.
Doth said the DOT is also working with employers to allow for alternative work schedules and telecommuting, which might keep more cars off the road.
“That would also help productivity stay up,” Doth said. “If they can come up with the plan and all the results are measured, they wouldn’t lose the 10-15 minutes a day per employee.”
For more information on the Fortify projects or to see traffic alerts, go to www.fortifyNC.com.