DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — About four miles of U.S. 70 in Durham County could be converted into a limited-access freeway.
Herman Sperling lives near the thoroughfare and is no stranger to traffic congestion issues.
“When I take my granddaughter home into downtown Durham, I’m stuck in a traffic jam that’s backed up for miles,” said Sperling, a Leesville Road Coalition co-founder.
With the project in the works for several years, a community meeting on Monday night with the NCDOT and Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrborro Metropolitan Planning Organization aimed to clarify the plan’s status. The event was hosted by the Leesville Road Coalition.
“When I see a traffic jam coming to Durham, it is likely that I’m going to go to do my shopping at restaurants and what not in Raleigh,” Sperling said.
Preliminary plans from the NCDOT indicate the portion of U.S. 70 from west of Lynn Road to east of Page Road Extension could be converted to six lanes. An interchange would sit at South Miami Boulevard.
DCHC MPO Executive Director Doug Plachcinski told CBS 17 studies prove there could be better alternatives to a freeway, such as a boulevard, that include more walkable and bikeable options. Plachcinski said the ultimate goal is to alleviate traffic, provide safety and reduce vehicle miles traveled.
“There’s been almost 10,000 new homes approved in Southeast Durham over the past two-and-half years,” said Leesville Road Coalition Co-Founder Stephen Knill. “And with that, having some sort of infrastructure to support that is really, really critical.”
In collaboration on the project, the NCDOT and DCHC MPO are set to hold additional outreach meetings with the public. The next input session takes place in June.
Sperling hopes the traffic is indeed alleviated.
“[Living nearby] started us off with looking for appropriate infrastructure to support all the people that want to move into our area who we welcome,” he said.
NCDOT Division Engineer Brandon Jones tells CBS 17 the plans are in the preliminary stages and there is no set timeline. But the freeway project is currently being reprioritized and funding is not yet confirmed.
The DCHC MPO will give a presentation regarding its final plan in the fall.
City council members Javiera Caballero, Leonardo Williams, Monique Holsey-Hyman and Mark-Anthony Middleton made an appearance at Monday night’s meeting in Carolina Arbors, along with Senator Mike Woodard (D-Durham), and Representative Zack Hawkins (D-Durham).
Community members at the meeting brought up concerns about coordinating more public transportation options. Some said there’s no need to make U.S. 70 bike friendly.