Drivers won't see official detour during I-40/I-440 rebuild

Posted February 18, 2013

— When road reconstruction begins in the next few months on an 11.5-mile stretch of Interstate 40 and Interstate 440 in Wake County, don't expect an official detour to avoid traffic delays.

"We're not officially signing any specific route, because we don't want to force everybody into that location," Battle Whitley, the North Carolina Department of Transportation's division engineer in Wake County, said Monday.

Defective pavement is forcing the state to tear up and rebuild the stretch – from U.S. Highway 1 in Cary to U.S. Highway 64/264 in Raleigh – over the next three years.

For months, the DOT has been preparing the approximately 110,000 drivers who travel the roadway each day for what will likely be traffic headaches and delays.

Whitley says the DOT plans to use digital message signs to keep drivers updated on travel times and provide real-time information to help them make decisions about alternates to I-40, such as U.S. Highway 70 Business to Hammond Road or Wilmington Street to get into downtown Raleigh or Interstate 540 to get around the I-40 congestion.

I-440, Whitley says, will be the obvious alternative route for drivers trying to get around Raleigh, but the roadway is already congested during daily commutes.

Ultimately, he says, it will be up to drivers to find the best alternate route that works for them. He expects that will take some time, however.

"We're expecting it's going to take probably three to four weeks for folks to get a feel for what the impact is going to be for them," Whitley said.

The DOT, which is expected to hire a contractor shortly, estimates the cost of the reconstruction to be $170 million.

Once construction begins, its goal is to get at least 30,000 drivers to use alternate routes, adjust their work schedules or use alternate forms of transportation to cut down on traffic delays.

A final schedule of road closures isn't yet available, but the DOT has said it expects that information once a contractor has been hired and work begins.

Alternate routes

The black line in the map below shows the stretch of Interstate 40 that is being rebuilt. Red lines denote alternate routes that drivers can use to get into and around Raleigh.


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  • CERaleigh Feb 20, 2013

    To make matters worse... Tryon Road is about to go under construction from Lake Wheeler to South Wilmington Street at the end of this year, in order to realign the road and completely replace the bridge going over the train tracks.
    That'll be fun... Feel free to go ahead and cross that "alternative route" out of the equation.

  • oleguy Feb 20, 2013

    IDEA,,, Go ahead and close two lanes for a week,,, Might be a good test,,,When the traffic backs up from I85 in orange county to I95 in Johnston county, they just might put this thing off till they finish the other 540 loops,, Just saying

  • oleguy Feb 20, 2013

    Its not the top thats the problem,, Its the poor constructed Bottom,, Low bids, and inspectors from the first layer,,The road installed properly would still be OK, Stop the overloaded trucks, and reduce the speed to 50 MPH. This would really help or solve the bad traffic, wrecks and help conjestion,, Other cities with interstate roads set up safety Zones, reduce the speed to 50/55 and inforce it,,,Problem solved MILLIONS Saved,, I need to run for office,,Nah then I would become stupid

  • protestthis Feb 19, 2013

    you can all thank "LOW BID" for all this mess

  • Bendal1 Feb 19, 2013


    You don't wait until your roof leaks to fix the shingles. We don't want to wait until the pavement completely fails to replace it either. The overlay on top was put on a few years ago, but the concrete and base under it are in very bad shape. Rather than wait a few more years when there will be even more traffic to deal with, the state would rather fix it now. Plus the Southern Expressway won't be finished for at least 10 more years; the pavement won't last that much longer.

  • Bendal1 Feb 19, 2013

    Road-wearier, you are absolutely right and I was in error. I spoke with someone today who had pulled the project data and said it was built back in the early 80's. However, he also said the pavement was designed for a 20 year lifespan, so it has outlived its service life by over 10 years now. Plus, the volume of heavy trucks is much, much higher than it was designed for, and that's the problem. The big trucks have pounded it to the point there's very little left under that thin asphalt overlay put on it a few years ago.

  • Road-wearier Feb 19, 2013

    Bendal1, this part of I-40 is NOT 40 years old. It opened between 1983 and 1985 so it's 30 years old, tops. I can date it by the times I was working in bars on Hillsborough St and having to drive home thru the construction zones at night :)

  • mike275132 Feb 19, 2013

    Obviously the Correct solution is to do the work overnight between 9pm and 5am .
    But that would require common sense , Not in the NC DOT capabilities

  • alabama Feb 19, 2013

    This project makes absolutely no sense to me. I drive the middle stretch of I-40 daily and the pavement is smooth and even, no sign of deterioration. OK, so maybe it's out of sight, but it's not making itself felt yet.

    Why not complete the Southern Wake expressway from Holly Springs to I-40 first? Then all the I-40 thru traffic would have a simple way around the mess.

  • Bendal1 Feb 19, 2013


    As I said earlier, I-40 wasn't designed for these truck weights combined with the overall traffic volume. I work in this industry and when you increase both truck weights and the overall # of trucks on a road, no pavement won't handle the pounding. That it lasted as long as it did says the pavement was better designed than expected, considering it lasted 25% longer and carries trucks that are 30% heavier, in addition to carrying more of these heavier trucks as well.

    There's no one to "blame", nothing to get outraged about. The pavement is shot and must be replaced, it's that simple. It lasted over 40 years; you go find me untouched concrete pavement carrying the kinds of loads I-40 has carried that lasted this long. I can't think of any road in this state that has, and I've worked all over this state on these roads the past 29 years.