New signals could alleviate traffic woes in Durham

April 11, 2013 3:52:37 PM PDT
A glitch has made it difficult for drivers on a stretch of highway in Durham County.

Traffic engineers say the traffic signal at U.S. Highway 70 and Miami Boulevard is not at optimal performance.

The lights will soon be replaced with new signals. That means, right now, drivers are at the mercy of a set time on the traffic lights that is testing their patience.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation knows about the problem.

"We're trying to as we can, equal out the time in that area," said NCDOT's Wally Bowman. "There's been a lot of growth in that area. The developer did some improvements as part of this growth."

Part of the growth is from multiple subdivisions, exploding with new home construction. More residents, means more drivers.

A nearby developer has made some changes to the intersection, including adding lanes. However, drivers point to the traffic lights as the real problem.

Recently, the wooden poles were replaced with metal ones, and the new traffic signals are up, but not on.

For now, the old lights are set on a fixed time, without traffic detectors.

"So people on Miami feel like they should get more green time," said Bowman. "People on 70 feel like they should get more green time. It's one of those tough intersections where there's almost a 50/50 split there."

Transportation officials say about 29,000 drivers travel along U.S. Highway 70 every day. Another 27,000 drive down Miami Boulevard, and 12,000 travel along Mineral Springs Road.

"We'll optimize it as best we can," said Bowman. "It is tied into the signal system. The hardest part of that intersection is again you don't have one leg that's predominantly higher than the other leg."

DOT promises the new signals should be running within a week or two. They should be online, and tied into City of Durham's signal system.

The State Highway Patrol and the sheriff's office tell me combined they've responded to more than 100 accidents in the past year along this stretch of U.S. Highway 70.


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