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Cornelius News

How do you merge gradually in bumper-to-bumper traffic?

March 5. By Dave Vieser. Local officials kicked the tires on the I-77 exit scheme and pronounced the plan a clunker at the third meeting of I77’s Advisory Group.
“It appears that the design calls for about a half mile of stacking space,” said County Commissioner Jim Puckett. “I can tell you from personal experience that the general purpose lanes will sometimes back up 3-4 miles. They are trying to fit a standard toll lane design into a non-standard area.”

Puckett’s reference was to the fact that many motorists will be using I-77’s local lanes to access exits in the Lake Norman area, rather than the express toll lanes. DOT officials promised to look again at the access details for further discussion at the committee’s next meeting.

The key to stacking and merging around exits is room to do so. Merging, by definition, means combining, blending and uniting gradually—something that can’t happen when there’s even a one-mile back-up.

Earlier this year, Gov. Roy Cooper commissioned a fresh study by Mercator Advisors on the I-77 toll lane project and the remainder of the meeting was occupied reviewing the various options included in Mercator’s report. Those options will undergo further analysis at the next meeting currently scheduled for March 14.

The advisory board is a group of delegates from business organizations and municipalities trying to find a way to fix a contract that has been described by NC Rep. Chaz Beasley as if it was written by Cintra itself.

Committee member Mike Russell asked if the access lanes between general purpose lanes and the express lanes would be “robust enough” to handle emergency vehicles and trucks​, since ​express lanes​ have not been engineered to handle trucks. DOT officials said they did not know.