DOT works to clarify lane change in east Raleigh
Posted December 16, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.