Lake Norman & Mooresville

Lake Norman officials fear ramp signals may worsen congestion

The ramp meters, like one in New York, are red/green signals on interstate entrances that indicate to motorists when they can safely enter the freeway. They are controlled by traffic cameras and magnetic loops embedded in the interstate.
The ramp meters, like one in New York, are red/green signals on interstate entrances that indicate to motorists when they can safely enter the freeway. They are controlled by traffic cameras and magnetic loops embedded in the interstate.

A proposal by the state Department of Transportaiton to install ramp signals on entrances to I77 in the region, including the West Catawba Avenue interchange at Exit 28)in Cornelius and the Griffith/Goodrum interchange at Exit 30 in Davidson has caused concerns about congestion in an already heavily traveled portion of the interstate.

Officials from the NCDOT were scheduled to make a special presentation to Cornelius officials this week in an attempt to allay their concerns.

The DOT will be sending a representative to discuss this issue at the Cornelius Town Board meeting on Tuesday and the matter will also be discussed at the Sept. 20 Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization in Charlotte.

“These ramp meters could be impactful to our immediate region,” said Cornelius Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam, “ so we need to better understand the DOT study and locally evaluate potential improvements, impact or concerns. “

Davidson officials echoed Washam’s concerns. “The DOT still needs to delve into the details and make a recommendation since they are leading this analysis,” said Davidson spokeswoman Cristina Shaun. “We are interested in learning more about the next steps.”

The ramp meters, or signals, are red/green signals on interstate entrances that indicate to motorists when they can safely enter the freeway. They are controlled by traffic cameras and magnetic loops embedded in the interstate. Motorists are advised to enter the interstate one car at a time and only when the signal turns green.

However experience with the signals where they have been previously installed suggests that they don’t always achieve their goal and that many motorists ignore them.

“Considering the congestion that already exists in our area and the limited or lack of congestion relief that the toll project will bring, I am concerned this plan will cause further deterioration of our local surface traffic,” said Cornelius Commissioner Mike Miltich. “As movement onto the interstate is restricted, there will be queuing onto the surface roads thus causing them to fail further.”

An NCDOT study identified 21 entrance ramps along interstates in the Charlotte area, including I- 77, where they may be installed. “NCDOT may elect to implement these signals based on locations/direction, or they may elect to not deploy ramp metering projects due to other considerations and constraints.” the study said.

One of the greater areas of concern is Exit 30 in Davidson, which has very short entrance ramps.

The limited ramp lengths at Exit 30 would be really challenging,” said Miltich. “It could be difficult to be at interstate merge speed by the time the ramp ends, unless the ramps were lengthened.”

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer: davidvieser@gmail.com

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