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Options to Cope With Beltline Gridlock

Everyone with an easy commute to campus every day take one step forward.

Don’t move, though, until you know a little bit more about FortifyNC, the three-year project that will completely rebuild the southern part of Raleigh’s Beltline and Interstate-40. It’s an 11.5-mile stretch of urban highway that carries some 100,000 cars on a day when there are no construction or accident delays.

To handle the construction which will last through three NC State basketball and football seasons and three Carolina Hurricanes seasons, the Department of Transportation hopes to reduce the number of travelers by 30,000 cars per day, which could be a monumental pain in the neck for staff, faculty and students who don’t plan for traffic delays and disruptions in the coming years.

Multiple Options

There are multiple options to help alleviate the potential problems, including new bus routes through Triangle Transit, new car- and vanpools and social media apps that will inform commuters about construction and congestion during morning and evening rush hours.

The first stage of the $130 million rebuilding project began in December, on the eastern side where the Beltline splits from both I-40 and Highway 64/264. That effort is slated to end this fall.

But the second stage, which will run from late fall until the end of 2016, will likely have a much bigger impact on the NC State community, since it affects the southern corridor from the Highway 1/64 split in Cary to all the exits at Gorman Street, Lake Wheeler Road, Wilmington Street and Hammond Road.

There are vanpool options through Share the Ride N.C. available for $80 per month. It can be partnered with the Emergency Ride Home program that offers free rides or rentals in case of an emergency at home or other unforeseen circumstances.

New Bus Routes

Triangle Transit has added new routes that bring commuters from Johnston County and other locations outside the Beltline to the downtown Regional Transit Center. Those buses are now eligible to avoid traffic tie-ups because of North Carolina’s new Bus-On-Shoulder System that allows approved transit buses to drive around traffic delays.

Buses are also equipped with free Wi-Fi connections that allow commuters to access the Internet while riding to work.