I-Team: Is there a solution to travel troubles on Glenwood Avenue?

The mess in Brier Creek even forced police to shutdown a section of the busy road for a short time.
March 5, 2014 3:43:47 AM PST
Once again, multiple wrecks due to weather on Raleigh's Glenwood Avenue brought traffic to a standstill Tuesday morning.

The mess near the Brier Creek area even forced police to shutdown a section of the busy road for a short time.

It comes just three weeks after Raleigh's own version of "Snowmageddon."

On Feb. 12, the challenge of Glenwood's slopes made it impossible for many vehicles, including a tractor trailer, to make it up hill, which clogged traffic in the area for hours.

A photo of the traffic nightmare ended up going viral online after one of the cars that were unable to make it up a hill caught on fire.

The road's unforgiving, hilly terrain makes for nearly unfeasible driving conditions in snow and ice, not to mention the flash flooding during rainier months.

"It's a big challenge, because you're presented with some pretty difficult grades," said Chris Magee with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Chris Jefferson, a traffic analyst in Raleigh, spends hours each day watching every major intersection in the city through a series of monitors. He can adjust traffic lights to help ease congestion, but says keeping traffic moving along Glenwood Avenue during wintry weather is no easy fix.

"Vertical curves and hills and crests, it's like with the topography of the land," Jefferson said. "You basically do the best you can."

So is there a solution? NCDOT, which is responsible for maintenance on Glenwood Avenue, says there's no plan now or in the future to flatten Glenwood's hills.

"We're always looking for ways to improve things, but nothing major like flattening a road," said Steve Abbott with the NCDOT.

The cost -- which would be tens of millions of dollars to buy up homes, property, and businesses -- is unjustifiable for the state given the frequency of wintry weather in the state.

"You don't want it totally flat. You have the hills and that's part of the charm of Raleigh is having the hills in the area because winter weather doesn't come along all that often," said Abbott. "So if you make a lot of improvements like that what do you get out of it, the last three years?"

DOT says it's always open to readjusting its plans when it comes to sanding and salting, or looking at storm drainage issues for flooding. However, there's no major fix in the works for Glenwood Avenue.

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