After rough start, Fortify road project takes holiday break
Posted December 20, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation are the first to admit that “Fortify,” a massive project to rebuild a portion of Interstates 40 and 440, got off to a rocky start Monday morning.
Despite efforts to inform the public in advance of daytime lane closures, the morning commute was marred by confusion and traffic back-ups that caused some longer-than-normal ride times.
“Obviously, the first day, the commute was affected by the closures,” NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott said. “(There were) lots of backups, which is like that (for) almost every project.”
Crews clarified the lane markers Monday night, and traffic was back to normal by Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
But Thursday's morning commute was a mess.
An accident on I-40 West just before entering the work zone backed up traffic for miles. That crash and another Friday morning have NCDOT looking at ways to slow down drivers.
“We're working with the contractor to get some more signage out there, some more warnings to slow down,” Abbott said.
Here’s where the project stands:
Westbound I-440 is down to two lanes between I-40 and the Poole Road exit. Crews will take a break through the holidays.
When work resumes in January, they will continue the westbound lane closures to the Knightdale Bypass. Then, work begins on the eastbound side of I-440, reducing it to two lanes between the Knightdale Bypass and I-40.
Later in January, crews will replace the cones with concrete Jersey barriers.
Abbott says that could be another challenge for drivers who aren’t accustomed to the barriers.
“That usually slows down traffic because people get nervous, and it depends on how wide the vehicle they have is,” he said.
The holiday lull might be a good time for drivers to think about alternate routes and other options to keep the New Year from becoming a traffic nightmare.
Triangle Transit has set up a special Johnston County Express bus to help get around the delays. It can drive on the shoulder when traffic backs up, and it's free through the end of January.