The state Department of Transportation will hold a meeting Thursday to explain its plan to install traffic signals on four on-ramps on Interstate 540 early next year to try to make it easier for cars to merge into traffic.
The meeting will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at Abbotts Creek Community Center on Durant Road in Raleigh.
The signals, known as ramp meters, will switch between green and red, allowing one or two drivers to go, then stopping the next ones for a few moments. The aim is to ease congestion by breaking up the long lines of vehicles that pour onto the highway during rush hour.
It will be the first time ramp meters have been used in North Carolina, though they’re common in other large cities, including New York, Houston and Atlanta. If the I-540 lights are successful, DOT would look to install them on other busy ramps in North Carolina.
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The signals will be placed on the westbound on-ramps at Falls of Neuse, Six Forks, Creedmoor and Leesville roads and will be used during the morning rush hour and at other times of heavy traffic, such as after an accident. The lights will be turned off when not in use.
DOT chose the four ramps in part because of their length. The lights will be placed about halfway down the ramps, giving drivers enough space to get up to speed from a dead stop.
Sensors in the pavement will detect if traffic from the on-ramp is backing up onto the road and will turn the light green long enough to clear the backup. NCDOT’s traffic operations center will monitor the ramps via cameras and can manually adjust the signals if necessary.