Raleigh, N.C. — At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, FedEx workers load a plane with packages that could go anywhere in the world within a day.
With just a few days before Christmas, the clock is ticking.
“This is what we live for,” company representative Joe Stephens said. “We really want to do our part to help Santa get everything where it needs to be on that special morning.”
Finding a clear route for FedEx trucks could be a little tougher next Christmas. By then, a massive, $170 million construction project to redesign Interstate 40/440 will have started.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is tearing up 11 miles of the roadway and rebuilding it between U.S. Highway 1 near Cary and U.S. Highway 64-264 in east Raleigh.
The work could reduce traffic to just two lanes in each direction day and night for up to three years.
“Lane closures won't start until late summer or early fall, so we still have nine or 10 months to help people plan,” NCDOT spokeswoman Leah Friedman said.
Friedman is reaching out to businesses, hospitals and local government to help them prepare for the project, and she said FedEx is getting a head start.
“They immediately thought of other places they could land their planes and fan out the trucks from there,” she said.
FedEx drivers also are timing alternate routes through Raleigh. Managers say the early planning is important.
“At the end of the day, this will be a non-event and will be transparent to our customers,” Stephens said.
NCDOT hopes other businesses will take a cue from FedEx and start thinking about ways around the delays. They are encouraging employers to consider flexible schedules or allowing employees to work from home to alleviate traffic during the construction.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2016.