Fortify

DOT works to clarify lane change in east Raleigh

Posted December 16, 2013

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— The North Carolina Department of Transportation worked through the night Monday to make lane markers more clear along the stretch of westbound Interstate 40 to westbound I-440 where work has begun on the three-year Fortify project.

DOT construction crews have narrowed the merge lanes in that busy area on the east side of downtown Raleigh at Exit 16 down to a single lane.

On the first weekday of work, drivers found it hard to distinguish between the old lane markers and the revisions. Monday evening, crews were making the new, painted stripes brighter, grinding away old markers and adding reflectors to ease the Tuesday morning commute.

Many who sat in delays of 20 to 40 minutes Monday morning will be looking for an alternate route.

"It was horrible," said Ronnita Holt. Although she left early, Holt said she was a half-hour late for class. "People were doing 20, 30 miles per hour," she said.

Ashley Williams left early and didn't hit too much traffic Monday morning. "But coming back, it was definitely not my cup of tea so I tried to find an alternative route."

Through television, newspapers and digital media, DOT has tried to get the word out so that drivers who can change their plans or routes can avoid delays over the course of the state's project to rebuild crumbling pavement on an 11.5-mile stretch of the heavily traveled I-40/440. Work is not expected to be complete until the end of 2016.

On Tuesday night, crews hope to continue installing lane shifts from Sunnybrook Road to Poole Road. 

On Wednesday night, crews will return to finish the lane closures from Poole Road to the U.S. Highway 64/264 split. 

Work to close lanes on eastbound I-440 is expected to begin after Christmas, officials said.

Once eastbound and westbound lanes are narrowed on I-440, permanent construction barriers will create a two-lane highway through December 2014.

Wake County Public School System officials are preparing now for any future delays created by the Fortify project. The school board plans to discuss options at Tuesday's work session.

The district's Transportation Department doesn't anticipate any major issues with the first part of the project, but officials said Phase 2, which will begin late next year on I-440 in south Raleigh, could pose delays for school buses and services such as food delivery.

DOT to expand commuter options as lanes close

As an alternative to the increased congestion, Johnston County commuters have new and expanded bus options. A daily express service runs between downtown Raleigh and Cleveland Crossing in Johnston County. Called the Johnston County Express, or JCX, the route follows I-40 to U.S. Highway 70 into downtown. Commuters can try the service for free through January, officials said. 

There are also plans to create a park-and-ride lot at the Walmart in Cleveland Crossings Shopping Center, which is near I-40 and N.C. 42. The lot will allow commuters to park before catching the JCX bus or meet with carpoolers to share a ride.

DOT's Bus on Shoulder System also became active on Monday along I-40 from Raleigh to Exit 312. It enables bus drivers on designated routes to travel in the shoulder of the interstate as long as traffic in travel lanes is moving slower than 35 mph. 

In addition, the existing Zebulon-Wendell-Raleigh Express bus route will be expanded to include midday run.

DOT officials say they hope to get 30,000 drivers off I-40 and I-440 during the morning and afternoon rush hours while the Fortify project is going on.

12 Comments

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  • ConservativeVoter Dec 18, 2013

    How about businesses allowing employees who don't have to be in the office to work from home.

    This would take a lot of cars off of the road.

  • ConservativeVoter Dec 18, 2013

    I'm still waiting for the NCDOT to tell us which contractor was responsible for taking shortcuts during the construction of the southern outer loop that's requiring the road to be rebuilt in 30 years.

    I bet this contractor is still doing work for NCDOT.

    Around the nation there are lots of sections of Interstate Highways which are 40 years old and older without having these problems.

    Seems rebuilding roads to fix contractor caused problems is the norm in North Carolina.

    The I-40 widening problem in Durham County and the I-795 asphalt problem are typical of how NCDOT does business.

  • pooodaddy Dec 18, 2013

    "Letting employees come in and leave an hour or two early or late would ease a lot of the rush hour congestion."

    "How about catching the bus to and from work. You are being paid for 8 hours and your should absolutely do so. You can be replaced!"

    Flex time doesn't mean you are working less. Maybe you should look it up.

  • Titus Pullo Dec 17, 2013

    "Add to this the fact that NC is the eighth state to have the worst drivers"

    I agree. All of those people who have moved here from other locations have certainly driven down the quality of drivers in NC.

  • Alexia.1 Dec 17, 2013

    "How about catching the bus to and from work. You are being paid for 8 hours and your should absolutely do so. You can be replaced!" --678devilish

    I don't think the suggestion was to work less. Rather, the suggestion was to stagger the traffic. Rather than have 100% of the commuters on the road from 5-6, have 25% on the road from 3-4, 25% from 4-5, 25% from 5-6, and 25% from 6-7.

    Those that come earlier leave earlier, and those that come later leave later. Everyone still works the same number of hours.

    Anyway, I think that was the idea. And it's a good one.

    Taking a bus is not a very good option at all around the RDU area. There simply are not enough buses, bus stops, or good routes for most people.

  • 678devilish Dec 17, 2013

    Letting employees come in and leave an hour or two early or late would ease a lot of the rush hour congestion.

    How about catching the bus to and from work. You are being paid for 8 hours and your should absolutely do so. You can be replaced!

  • 678devilish Dec 17, 2013

    Why do the DOT hire a person that has a degree, and that person have do idea how to do the job? His attitude and personality is killing him all above the arrogance. Maybe his boss needs to check him out. This year no one wants to have a Christmas party with him. How sad is that?

  • outhousecat Dec 17, 2013

    It's time for the local companies and industries to look at allowing flex time for their employees that don't have to be there at specific hours. Letting employees come in and leave an hour or two early or late would ease a lot of the rush hour congestion.

  • xylem01 Dec 17, 2013

    Add to this the fact that NC is the eighth state to have the worst drivers. Glad I do not live in Wake County.

  • zacksmill Dec 17, 2013

    Thank you DOT for finally adding extra signage to "clarify" the lane changes. This "clarity" wasn't there yesterday morning at around 5:30 am when I was there watching all the cars/trucks swerve and hit their brakes, etc. If someone had been seriously injured/killed, would the DOT be responsible? The electronic signs yesterday morning were not showing the lane changes. They were still alerting that buses can run on the shoulders. And now if you break down on I-40 on the bus route, you better pull into the grass because they said they will be towing vehicles quickly that break down on the service shoulder to keep the bus route open. Isn't that what the service shoulder is for? In case you break down? What a bunch of low IQ people at the DOT.
    (My post got flagged for using the word IxDxIxOxTxS)

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