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Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary The Triangle Area
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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Default Driving in the Triangle

I am curious whether I will have a difficult time getting around the Triangle if I avoid the highways. I really hate highway driving. Am I going to be able to get around or am I going to be stuck staying close to home? We are hoping to buy in Chapel Hill.
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:08 AM
 
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Hmmm....well it depends on where you're driving to?

If you're living in Chapel Hill to commute to jobs in RTP, while I-40 is still the fastest way there, there are a semi-decent number of back roads that weave between Chapel Hill thru southern Durham into RTP to work. But stoplights, traffic, etc, will pretty much almost double the time to get there. But that should be expected I guess.

If you're talking about say, driving to Raleigh for a concert...then you'd be crazy not to take I-40. Smaller roads would make the trip well over an hour, or more depending on when you're doing it.

But if you're talking getting around your own city (Chapel Hill/Carrboro) with occasional hops over to Durham for shopping or whatever, then that's easy on side roads. In fact it's probably almost the preferable way to do it.
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:14 AM
bta
 
Location: Cary, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdatlas View Post
I am curious whether I will have a difficult time getting around the Triangle if I avoid the highways. I really hate highway driving. Am I going to be able to get around or am I going to be stuck staying close to home? We are hoping to buy in Chapel Hill.
I don't think you'll have much trouble avoiding highways at all. I'd suggest you get a GPS and turn on the "Avoid Highways" feature. I'd also recommend the GPS because the roads down here meander a bit. You'll think you're on a road heading North - but then it will detour for a while to the East or to the West. And eventually you'll find yourself somewhere you recognize but you'll think to yourself, "how did I get here - I didn't even know this road went here".

My mother and father just moved down here (after being away for 10 years) and my father, who also hates the interstate, doesn’t seem to have much trouble getting around. He’s lived in Durham for 20 years though – so he knows the back roads well.
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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Default Not commuting

Thanks for your insight Bob. I am a stay at home mom so I won't be commuting. I just need to be able to get to the big stores and maybe some places to take my kids. We spent a lot of time on 40 while we were down there and I just do not think I could cope with driving on it. I'm a very nervous driver. Fortunately my husband is a fearless driver who used to drive into NYC regularly so I can rely on him to take me to the places that are only accessible by taking the highway.
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Old 03-18-2007, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Quadrangle, NC
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I am not based in Chapel Hill or the neighboring Durham/Carrboro but my experiences may be helpful if you do take some trips to the Eastern side of the Triangle.

I lived in Europe until my late twenties and I never drove because the transit infrastructure was so well established. In the Triangle I discovered that trains and buses would not work for me. I lived for a year in the Southpoint area of Durham (very close to where I-40 meets NC 54) and I just found the roads in the area too intimidating to even begin to learn how to drive. Then I moved to a little ranch house in the heart of Cary. I found the roads in my neighborhood to be less scary and so I learned to drive.

Now, three years later, I find that I can get almost anywhere I want in the Triangle. I remain phobic regarding the interstate and wider/busier highways. I have driven on i-40 about ten times (on the short section between Cary and Morrisville). I have driven on 440 just the once for an urgent appointment in NE Raleigh. I have driven on the tangle around the airport about 20 times (I get to Brier Creek via Aviation Parkway). Laugh at me but I even avoided 1-40 going to Charlotte. I took the scenic route via US 64 and Route 49.

If I am going to an unfamiliar place I use Mapquest and click on the 'avoid highways' feature to get directions. Sometimes I use aerial images from Google to travel the route online as it were. I like to see if any intersections look challenging. If you zoom in close enough you can see where lane changes will be necessary (though sometimes the images are outdated). This may sound laborious but I find advance planning makes me a much less nervous driver.

From my base in Cary I can easily get to Morrisville and RTP using 54 West. I have even been to Chapel Hill using 54 all the way. I use Aviation Parkway to get to Brier Creek. I use Lake Pine Drive to get to Apex. I use Kildaire Farm Road to get to Holly Springs. I use Tryon Road to get to Swift Creek and Garner. I use 54 East to get to West Raleigh/NCSU/Cameron Village and downtown Raleigh. I break off on Blue Ridge Road if I want to head to NW Raleigh/Crabtree. If I want to go to NE Raleigh/North Hills I typically use Lynn Road.

My preferred 'longcuts' are now familiar and I am starting to feel more spontaneous in heading out the door. I know many of these lovely 2-lane or 4-lane routes will eventually be widened. I hope to be a more confident driver by then.
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Old 03-18-2007, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Durham, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpea View Post
]
My preferred 'longcuts' are now familiar and I am starting to feel more spontaneous in heading out the door. I know many of these lovely 2-lane or 4-lane routes will eventually be widened. I hope to be a more confident driver by then.
Sounds like you've already made a great start! This is a tough area to come to if you hate to drive. My wife detests driving (and has eyesight issues due to being a preemie, to boot) and hadn't driven in a decade before we moved here. Good for you for sticking with it and getting more comfortable with it!
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Old 03-18-2007, 01:15 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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Snowpea,

Thank you so much. Like you I lived in Europe until my mid-twenties and only learned to drive when I came to the States. I am so glad to hear that their are back roads that I can take. I am going to save your post so that when we move I will have an idea of which roads to take.

I am a very nervous driver too and like you I really like to familiarize myself with a route before I go somewhere. Plus my husband gave me a GPS for Christmas so I plan on using that and setting it to avoid highways. I know my life would be a whole lot easier if I could use the highways but I am too chicken.
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Old 03-18-2007, 07:12 PM
 
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i am in north jersey and will be moving down there very soon. i am soooo glad i am not the only one who hates highways. for years it has been this secret--because everyone here takes the highway to get to anything--and i know all the backroads. and i am happy to know there are backroads to get me where i need to go there too!
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Old 03-18-2007, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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findinghope,

We need to form a little club so that we can teach each other about backroads. I really wish that I could drive on highways but they just scare me to death.
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Old 03-18-2007, 07:51 PM
 
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Another idea to also keep in mind is that if you're gonna live in Chapel Hill, you'll have access to a free city bus system there. So that can take a nice bite out of the amount of driving you'd have to do, perhaps.
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