As I mentioned in my introductory blog post, the two keywords we’d like to incorporate most in the Go Triangle blog are information and interaction. Well, we’ve been interacting with our riders on Twitter and Facebook and some of the most recurring questions involve the ongoing Fortify project. We’ve been asked by commuters, employers, and just curious folks what the Fortify project encompasses, how to prepare for it, or what the Fortify project really is.
According to the official Fortify website:
“I-40 and I-440 are two of the Triangle’s busiest roads. The 30-year old pavement over the 11.5-mile long ‘smile’ of the beltline is weakening and we need to replace the material to make your commute safer and easier… More than 100,000 vehicles travel this stretch of highway each day, putting a great deal of stress on the road’s surface. Fortify is part of a 10-year plan to strengthen North Carolina’s roadways and alleviate traffic congestion in the Triangle. Our goal is to fortify the roadway for safer, more efficient travel for everyone who travels through this busy section of highway.”
Great! We know that the Fortify project will make much-needed repairs to our roads. I-40 and I-440 will be safer, and the work will help ease traffic congestion in the future.
Now, ask yourself these questions:
(Photo via my40ride.com)
Answer yes to any of the above? If so, then pay close attention because you will be affected by the Fortify project. If you answered no, read on anyway. You’ll have something to talk about with your second cousin on your mother’s side, twice removed, at Christmas dinner.
Traffic delays have already begun, as many of you have told us on Twitter. The not-so-encouraging news is that these delays will likely continue. We are only in Phase I of the Fortify project, with Phase II scheduled to begin in late 2014. WRAL even reports that Fortify “will have a ‘significant’ impact on the Wake County Public School System.” However, the real encouraging news is that while delays are beginning, you still have enough time to adjust your commute!
According to our sustainable travel services supervisor, Shelly Parker, even just changing your commute one day a week reduces traffic congestion (and gas costs) by 20%. If 10% of drivers in the Fortify project corridor would carpool or take the bus just one day per week, it would remove 11,000 cars from the road daily. But wait: the average car length is 13.5 feet. Multiple that by 11,000. You get 148,500 feet that those cars take up on the interstate. Now, divide that number in half, accounting for two lanes of traffic. We end up with 74,250 feet. Once we convert that to miles, the result is almost exactly 14 miles of double lane traffic. Fourteen miles of double lane traffic gone. That’s farther than the distance between RTP headquarters and NC State’s campus.
To reiterate, if 10% of drivers carpooled or took the bus just one day per week, it would remove 14 miles of double lane traffic from our roads daily.
When I read those numbers, I was stunned. Can changing your commute just one day a week really make that much of a difference? As you can see above, the resounding answer is yes.
So my challenge to you is to spend the weekend considering what you could do differently for one day next week. Just one. You could find a carpool buddy at work or Share The Ride NC, sign-up for a vanpool, or check out what buses run closest to you via the GoTriangle trip planner. If you live in Johnston County, you could even catch a free ride on the new JCX.
Tweet at us @gotriangle or @triangletransit using #fortify and let us know what you do with your one day of alternative commuting. Who knows, you could become our next featured rider!