Dozens of Johnston County residents voiced concerns and asked questions Thursday about the state’s plan to remake the interchange of Interstate 40 and N.C. 42 in the Cleveland community.
The Department of Transportation, which is considering three alternatives to the existing interchange, held a public meeting on the project at nearby West View Elementary School.
Joe Carey of Clayton frowned on all of the alternatives, which the DOT said it designed to ease the heavy congestion that plagues the intersection during rush hour and on weekends. Rather, Carey suggested widening N.C. 42 all the way to Clayton.
“They should have widened that road a long time ago,” he said.
Residential growth over the the past decade has led to more drivers using the interchange on the way to and from work via I-40. In addition, new restaurants, gas stations and retail stores on N.C. 42 have inflated the traffic count.
Each of the alternatives uses some form of a diverging-diamond interchange, a fairly new design that allows two directions of traffic to temporarily cross to the left side of the road to reach access ramps. The DOT says the special interchanges eliminate turns against oncoming traffic and decrease stop-and-go traffic.
“It’s a good concept of simplifying traffic signals and preserves the flow,” said Brian Yamamoto, an engineering supervisor for the DOT.
Mike and Linda Angyal of the Cleveland community said they weren’t fans of the diverging diamond after seeing an example of the concept at the public meeting.
“Johnston County has a lot of problems with drunk drivers, and there is enough confusion already,” Linda Angyal said.• Alternative one involves building a new interchange on N.C. 42 over I-40 and making improvements at the intersection of N.C. 42 and Cleveland Road.
• Alternative two calls for an interchange on Cornwallis Road over I-40. Cornwallis Road is just east of the N.C. 42 and I-40 interchange.
• Alternative three calls for a new interchange on N.C. 42 over I-40, improvements to the intersection of N.C. 42 and Cleveland Road and an interchange on Cleveland Road over I-40.
Mike Angyal said he did not like the third alternative because the exit on Cleveland Road would be too close to West View Elementary School.
“We don’t have the money for this,” he added. “This has to be millions of dollars.”
The proposed changes fall under the “statewide mobility” category of projects and will compete with other highway initiatives for funding, according to new DOT data released in May. The data show that alternative one would cost about $6.67 million.
Comments from the public meeting will factor into the process the DOT uses with each of its highway projects. The department will also conduct an environmental analysis before it selects a preferred alternative, conducts a public hearing and prepares a final proposal.
State documents show that the environmental assessment is scheduled for spring 2015, the public hearing for summer 2015, right-of-way acquisition after 2021 and construction in 2023. Funding is not yet earmarked for right-of-way acquisition and construction.
For more information or to view maps of the alternatives, go to www.ncdot.gov/projects/publicmeetings and click on the N.C. 42 and I-40 project.