No, that headline is not a typo. If you have the ill fortune of driving over the causeways recently, you probably noticed construction of the toll lanes has begun there as well. Adding two toll lanes (one each way) plus buffers and shoulders is pretty tight fight. How will Cintra accomplish this?
Well, if you look at their marketing materials, it looks like there’s plenty of room. Here’s a screen shot from their promotional video:
Note that there is an inside shoulder, a buffer and an outside shoulder. The outside shoulder is about the same width as a traffic lane, i.e 12 feet.
This, in fact, matches the plan where there is a single toll lane in either direction that’s not over the causeways. Here’s the typical cross section, per the publicly available engineering drawings:
Note there is a 12′ outside shoulder, the same width as the traffic lanes, and a 10′ inside shoulder. However, it’s a different story for the stretches over the causeways. Here’s the causeway plan, per those same engineering drawings:
The outside shoulder is eliminated. The toll lane buffer has been narrowed to 3 feet, and the inside shoulder is a useless 6 feet.
If there is an accident blocking the toll lanes, presumably the general purpose lanes will be gummed up as well. So unless they make fire trucks narrower than six feet, emergency vehicles will be unable to traverse the causeways.
We pointed this out to the Lake Norman Marine Commission because a concern within their purview should be how emergency vehicles could access the causeways in the event of an accident or (heaven forbid) a spill. Such an event could affect water quality and boater safety.
NCDOT assured the Commission all would be well, and the Commission approved Cintra’s permit a couple weeks ago.
Commission Chair Mark Lancaster said to the NCDOT, “We trust you.”