The ramp from Leesville Road to westbound Interstate 540 will be closed over the weekend as part of a project to install the state’s first traffic lights that moderate the flow of vehicles entering the highway.
The so-called ramp meters are expected to be operating by September on four westbound on-ramps on 540 at Leesville, Falls of Neuse, Six Forks and Creedmoor roads. Leesville Road will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday so workers can widen and repave the ramp and install a new guardrail.
The goal of ramp signals is to break up the long lines of cars and trucks that pour onto the freeway during rush hour. The lights will switch between green and red, allowing one or two drivers to go, then stopping the next ones for a few moments to make it easier for them to merge into traffic.
These will be the first ramp meters in North Carolina, though they’re common in other large cities, including New York, Houston and Atlanta. The N.C. Department of Transportation says that if the meters work well on I-540 they will be introduced elsewhere in the state.
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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.