DOT's 'Fortify' project to have 'significant' impact on Wake schools
Posted December 17, 2013
Garner, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportation's three-year rebuild of an 11.5-mile stretch of Interstates 40 and 440 will have a "significant" impact on the Wake County Public School System, according to the district's chief business officer.
David Neter told school board members Tuesday that Phase I of the project, which the DOT has dubbed "Fortify," is expected to have a minimal impact on the system since routes along the stretch of I-440 and I-40 in east Raleigh affect only 12 buses.
But Phase II of the project, scheduled to begin sometime in late 2014, will likely affect many aspects of schools' operations, including finances.
Everyone who commutes to and from work and school as well as employees who travel as part of their job functions would be affected.
"The delays are going to be horrendous," Neter said. "It is something we are all going to have to deal with."
For example, detours, congested roadways and longer bus routes as a result could mean additional fuel costs, and bus drivers sitting in traffic longer than normal could add up to extra pay.
More than 200 current bus routes – about 20 percent of buses – would be affected, Neter said, and that could affect bell schedules and possibly mean earlier start schedules for some schools and later bus drop-off times for others.
"I want to really emphasize that the impact extends far beyond the construction zone," Neter said. "A lot of alternate routes will be impacted as drivers divert and look for routes outside the construction zone."
Based on DOT projections, for example, an extra 600 vehicles per hour are expected on Wade Avenue in Raleigh in the mornings.
"We will not know the true impact on the construction zone alternate routes until construction actually begins," Neter warned.
School staff will continue studying potential impacts, Neter said, and bring to the board recommendations on changes to how the district operates.
It's unclear, however, when that will be.