The Lowdown on the Pain in the Ass Wait Ave – NC 98 Intersection

A reader wanted to know what was up with the improved Wait Ave / NC 98 intersection. It used to be so easy to come into Wake Forest on NC 98 and turn right to head downtown on Wait Avenue. For some reason the intersection has been improved for our convenience. It’s a bit like the sign we keep expecting to see at the airport security checkpoint, “Strip searched for your convenience.”

We agree the intersection as it stands now makes doesn’t appear to make much sense and is a huge pain in the ass from what it used to be. We’ll give you that.

The reader said they would like to “get rid of the stupid turn around at the Wait Ave and highway 98 intersection. We shouldn’t have to drive towards a housing community then turn around just to get onto Wait Ave.” They also said, “I don’t know how that intersection was ever approved. Who did approve it? The State or the Town?”

Well that sent us scurrying to get some answers. It appears the Town of Wake Forest had nothing to do with the approval of the intersection. This is a NC Department of Transportation decision. And like a lot of things in life, once you get more information and understand both sides of the issue, it helps to understand why something is the way it is.

Here are Some Photos to Put the Intersection Into Context

The Wait Avenue intersection where you can't turn left anymore.
The Wait Avenue intersection where you can’t turn left anymore.
From NC 98, looking up the street to where cars have to go around the circle to come back and turn right onto Wait Avenue.
From NC 98, looking up the street to where cars have to go around the circle to come back and turn right onto Wait Avenue.
Cars headed from NC 98 towards the circle.
Cars headed from NC 98 towards the circle.
Traffic from NC 98 headed around the circle to get back to Wait Avenue.
Traffic from NC 98 headed around the circle to get back to Wait Avenue.
From the circle, looking back towards NC 98.
From the circle, looking back towards NC 98.

So here is the good news / bad news lowdown. The intersection is not going to change. That’s the bad news. The good news is it is actually part of a bigger project that will essentially create a bypass around Wake Forest that will be a blessing for many.

North Loop

Traditions Grande Boulevard is part of what will become the North Loop – a new major thoroughfare that will connect southeast Wake Forest to the northwest part of town.

The Upcoming Wake Forest North Loop
The Upcoming Wake Forest North Loop

Once completed, the North Loop will permit traffic to move around Wake Forest to Capital Boulevard at Harris Road without accessing North Main Street or traveling through the downtown area. As a result, the North Loop is expected to experience greater volumes of traffic than Wait Avenue and will be considered a โ€œsuperstreet.โ€ – Source

NCDOT required the modifications to the Wait Avenue intersection based on accepted superstreet guidelines. Due to concerns for public safety and optimal traffic flow, these guidelines prevent direct left turns in and out of minor streets at main intersections and are the reason NCDOT would not approve a direct left-turn movement from Traditions Grand Boulevard onto Wait Avenue.

Understanding Superstreets

The intersection is part of the “superstreet” initiative. Once you recognize the superstreet setup you will recognize more around the area.

From the NC Department of Transportation, a superstreet is a type of intersection in which minor cross-street traffic is prohibited from going straight through or left at a divided highway intersection. Minor cross street traffic must turn right, but can then access a u-turn to proceed in the desired direction. Other configurations of superstreets are possible based on site specific conditions. The Superstreet concept provides an effective alternative along heavily traveled regional arterials in areas with anticipated commercial and residential growth. The design concept is contingent upon a series of features that reduce potential conflict points while maintaining traffic flow, resulting in:

  • Increased safety by reducing conflict points at major crossovers
  • Time savings from simplified signal phasing
  • Dedicated u-turn lanes for efficiency
  • An enhanced signalization operation
How a superstreet works
How a Superstreet Works

If you’ve traveled to other parts of the country, as we did recently to Michigan, these types of intersections are used to help keep traffic flowing.

And there you have it.

14 thoughts on “The Lowdown on the Pain in the Ass Wait Ave – NC 98 Intersection”

  1. Just discovered this site. Very helpful. Although, I hate this “superstreet” initiative NC has. I moved here from SC two years ago, and I have wasted more time making U-turns thanks to the NCDOT. Medians have only served to take more time out of my day to sit at a red light at a major intersection and wait for everyone and their mother to “keep traffic flowing.” It takes me forever to get anywhere on Capital Blvd in North Raleigh, especially if I miss my turn. Very agitating. ….but this website is not ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I live off Harris and I gotta say I’m not too excited about the additional headache it’s going to cause getting in and out of my neighborhood. And those of us that walk from the neighborhood to Joyner Park pray that they put crosswalks and sidewalks in. Not a big fan of getting hit by cars. I love how they inform the homeowners about this stuff…..NOT! Thanks for the info though.

    • It is a double edge sword. If they don’t improve Harris (widen) then a bunch of traffic is going to get jammed up. If they do widen Harris then the chances are it would be made safer for local residents with the new traffic. We’ve noticed recent surveying activity on the Purnell Road side of the Harris/Capital intersection. Something looks like it is in the works.

        • We try to avoid the serious stuff as much as possible. We really do. As far as trying to bring a smile to your day it falls in line with our belief there is no sense dying all tensed up.

  3. Thank you so much for providing this and many other great explanations about what’s going on in town. I am running for Town Commissioner this year and its things like the Northern Loop and more connectivity with sidewalks and greenways that I am really pushing for completion.

    • Just to be safe, maybe you can walk for Town Commissioner so you don’t trip. Good luck. What will be interesting to watch is if the intersections of N. White St and Royal Mill and others along the route get circles as well to keep traffic moving. That would be a bonus.

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