New I-40 interchange under review

Published 9:53 am Thursday, July 14, 2016

Baltimore Road could be extended to I-40, where a new interchange could be built.

The emphasis is on the “could.”

County commissioners last week heard a preliminary report on a transportation, feasibility and impact study being formed by the design consulting firm, Kimley Horn.

Commissioners had requested the study to alleviate some of the truck traffic generated by Ashley Furniture, which continues to grow at its Baltimore Road location. Trucks now go toward Farmington Road or NC 801.

The NC 801/US 158 intersection is already overcrowded, and increased traffic at Farmington Road will happen when the new high school opens next  year.

The study included a 6.3 mile stretch from Farmington Road to NC 801, including the entrance to the new high school and US 158, I-40 and NC 801.

An I-40 interchange at Redland Road would be unlikely, because of the properties that would have to be taken over, as well as a church and cemetery, said Jonathan Guy of Kimley Horn.

“A Baltimore Road extension makes logical sense,” Guy said.

Getting the new interchange won’t be easy, and it will be expensive. Because the interchange would benefit Ashley Furniture, he said that there could be more funding sources than the federal highway administration.

To get federal funding for a new interchange, he said the county would have to prove that existing interchanges can’t handle the traffic; that other changes to the roads couldn’t solve the problem; that there would be no adverse impacts on existing interchanges; that is in line with local and regional land use plans; as well as other criteria.

The study also includes Bermuda Run, making it more pedestrian friendly and re-working the US 158/NC 801 intersection. A roundabout there would require the use of the Wells Fargo property, Guy said.

The Baltimore Road/US 158 intersection could work with a roundabout or a traffic signal, he said.

Guy said the recommendations will likely include three lanes on Farmington Road from I-40 past the entrance to the new high school. It could also include roundabouts on each side of I-40 at Farmington Road.

The next step will include documentation of facts, review by steering committees, the county and department of transportation. After that, recommendations will be made, Guy said.