Ken Larsen's web site - Traffic hazard at intersection of I-40 and Route 54



On August 9, 2015 I came perilously close to getting rear-ended at the intersection of I-40 and Route 54 in southwest Durham.  I was traveling west on Route 54 and was intending to make a right turn at Farrington Road, but about five or six cars were on the off-ramp for exit 273A from I-40 north.  There's only 1000 feet from the end of that ramp (point X) to Farrington Road (point Y).  I eventually succeeded in making a right turn at Farrington, but it was scary dodging the cars coming onto 54 from the I-40 ramp.

Here's a screen shot from Google Earth:



What's the proper protocol for cars exiting the I-40 exit 273A ramp (which becomes two lanes at its end) at merger point X?  What about cars traveling west on Route 54 at merger point X?  Some of those I-40 cars will want to quickly shift to the third lane to make a left onto Farrington (at point Y).  Some of the Route 54 cars will want to do what I normally want to do and make a right onto Farrington (at point Y).  Who has the right of way?  There's only 1000 feet between points X and Y.

On August 9th I stopped my car at point X and intended to wait for the ramp traffic to pass before changing to the rightmost lane, but out of nowhere a car came up from behind me, beeped his horn, and swerved left to miss me.  That was scary.  At point X route 54 becomes the third and leftmost of three westbound lanes.  I'm not supposed to stop.

In the future if there are many cars on the I-40 ramp, I'm inclined to just continue westbound and forget about making a right onto Farrington.  That's what I had to do on November 21, 2018.  See this video.

Notes:  The asterisk (*) shows a church on Farrington Road that has been sold to UNC Healthcare.  That will certainly increase the traffic wanting to turn northward onto Farrington Road.  It should also be noted that on days when when there is a football game at UNC, the traffic exiting I-40 to go westbound on Route 54 becomes very heavy ... often backing up on I-40.

Here's another screen shot from Google Earth that I added some text to:


August 12, 2015 thoughts:  If someone is driving north on I-40 and wishes to go south on Farrington Road, they should take exit 273B instead of exit 273A.  At the end of exit 273B they can take a left at Route 54.  That would put them in the left-most lane.  That makes it easy to make a left at Farrington Road.


One way to fix all of the problems is to do away with exit 273A and widen exit 273B.  That forces everyone to come to a stop at the traffic light at the end of exit 273B and then go left or right at Route 54.


August 13, 2015:  My backgammon club's David Davis works for NC-DOT and said that there is already a project planned to address this issue.  The project number is U-5774E.  It is going to build an extension off of Celese Circle that will tie to Cleora Drive.  That will provide access to Farrington Road.  They also plan to build a bridge that will carry NC 54 over Farrington Road.  The bad news is that construction likely won't begin until 2024.  This is due to the need for public review and feedback because traffic flow would be changed.


February 29, 2016:  I learn from Davis Davis that whoever is in a particle lane has the right of way for that lane.  A person cannot change lanes unless the changed-to lane is clear.  Consequently, it would not be legal for me to switch to lane 1 (from lane 3) unless lanes 1 and 2 are clear.  If traffic were heavy enough to prevent safe lane changing, then I would have to forget about turning right on Farrington Road and just keep going straight. 


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