Lane closures begin Monday night in '40/440 Fortify' project

Posted October 28, 2013

— The North Carolina Department of Transportation unveiled detailed plans Monday for "40/440 Fortify," its massive three-year rebuild project that will replace an 11.5-mile stretch of Interstates 40 and 440 in southern Wake County. 

Notably, Triangle drivers will see nighttime lane closures beginning at 9 p.m. Monday on Interstate 440 between Exit 301 (the I-40/440 split) and U.S. Highway 64/264 (Poole Road). Officials said the closure will allow contractors to drill for pavement core samples. A similar closure is planned for 9 p.m. Tuesday on eastbound I-440 between Sunnybrook Road and the I-40/440 split.

Daytime closures will begin in early December, and the 2.5-mile section of I-440 that is part of the rebuild will be complete by late 2014. 

Crews will then move to I-40, with daytime lane closures beginning late in 2014. The entire project should be complete by the fall of 2016, DOT officials said. 

DOT looks to limit headaches from I-40 project DOT looks to limit headaches from I-40 project

The start time of the project has been moved up a couple of months because the contractor – Granite Construction Company – will be more vigilant throughout the rebuild to keep traffic delays to a minimum. To finish the project on time, crews will begin sooner than originally planned. DOT awarded the $130 million contract to Granite in May. 

The repair work is part of a 10-year plan to reduce congestion and make traveling in the Triangle easier. It's necessary because the pavement – first built in the 1980s – is cracking and crumbling due to a chemical reaction happening underneath the road. The reaction is caused by water mixing with a substance used in paving decades ago. 

“It has deteriorated beyond the point of continuing to do patchwork,” DOT engineer Wally Bowman said in a statement. “To ensure the road is safe, we need to remove the pavement completely to get rid of the chemical reaction that is still occurring today and replace it.”

In addition to replacing the highway, crews will extend two miles of auxiliary lanes to help manage additional traffic and fix 14 bridges in the construction zone.  

In an effort to keep impending traffic delays to a minimum, construction crews will keep three lanes open in both directions on Interstate 40 throughout the project. DOT Secretary Tony Tata said Monday that the decision to keep three lanes open was a key talking point as DOT and Granite planned for the start of the project. 

“While this project is necessary for the safety of drivers, we know it will also have an impact on the way people get to work, school and other important places,” Tata said. “We’re taking many steps to minimize that, including making a significant investment in additional transit and working with the contractor to keep three lanes open in both directions on I-40 during the majority of construction.”

After Tata took over as Secretary of Transportation, his team renamed the project that once known as “Crawleigh.” That nickname stemmed from a public contest, but no longer describes the anticipated impact to traffic, DOT Cris Mulder said.

The new name, “Fortify,” reflects the nature of the project and DOT’s larger mission to strengthen the Raleigh community while simultaneously reduce its impact on those who live, work and travel through the construction area, officials said. 

More than 100,000 cars travel on the 11.5-mile stretch of highway every weekday. Officials hope to reduce congestion by keeping as many as 30,000 cars off the road during heavy commute times – generally between 6 and 8:30 a.m. and 4 and 6:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

DOT said Monday that it is also investing an additional $12 million in public transportation to add more buses and routes in the affected area and identify new park-and-ride options that could alleviate slowdowns.


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  • superman Oct 29, 2013

    The two short streets in our housing development were paved in 1976. They have patched so many potholes that our street is just one big paved pothole. Asphalt has upheaved making it even worse. They been telling us for years they know it needs to be resurfaced but they dont have the money. Guess they dont know we pay taxes just like the other rich folks You have to be careful and stay in the middle of the road to avoid potholes.

  • trafalgerfountain Oct 29, 2013

    Wow - they sure want us to use 540, huh ?

    And why does it take 3 years to pave 11 miles of highway. NC DOT is a joke. Let's bring in workers from Virginia who know how to get a project done.

  • davidhartman Oct 28, 2013

    What is causing this 'chemical reaction?

    My guess is concrete contaminated with pyrite and/or pyrrhotite.

    If that's the case, I would hope legal action was explored against the original contractor/supplier instead of simply foisting the $130M bill on taxpayers.

  • I know some stuff Oct 28, 2013

    key to the project, is taking 30,000 cars a day off the road.
    Yeh, right. Just how are they going to do that? 30%...really???
    Now if the OUTER beltline (aka 540 went all the way around the south, and Tryon Rd. was 2 lanes min. ALL the way and Hwy 70 was not congested....and Western Blvd was a freeway....a 440 beltway that was 3 lanes min all the way around...then just maybe you could divert 30% of the cars.
    Reality check....oh, NONE of the above exists. Typical NCDOT.
    One mess after another.

  • disgusted2010 Oct 28, 2013

    "...the arrogance of General Tony Tata. The media has been having a field day with DHHS, its about time to work on DOT." - Tata hata

    Spend a couple of days around the dictator and your opinion will change.

    As for politics, I was not talking about the construction but the name given. Tata renamed the project just to get in front of a camera. He is a terrible media hound. Hasn't had his ego stroked lately.

  • gvmntcheese Oct 28, 2013

    I am not one for commenting on our northern states, but I will say this. Give those DOT crews up there a year down here and our road issues will be solved. Our state DOT workers are a joke when it comes to efficiency and should take a lesson or 2 from road crews from the northern states.

  • CenterRight Oct 28, 2013

    Three lanes open each way? Several miles of my I-40 commute is on a three lane section. Not sure how they can keep three lanes open unless they are adding a fourth lane. Anyone know if this is the case? - B74

    This contruction will be taking place on 40 from exit 301 west to exit 290, the majority of that corridor is 4 lanes wide. It narrows to 3 lanes just before the Gorman St. exit 295, going east it widens to 4 lanes just after exit 295 Gorman St.

  • Wheelman Oct 28, 2013

    @ inside the beltline

    If you think the DOT and how roads get built and maintained is apolitical, then you need to get out from inside the beltline some time.

  • spiritseeker Oct 28, 2013

    Jas27560 you stated how things were in Germany years ago, I noticed the same and found a very valid reason and that was the requirements for getting a license in Germany are very much more difficult and the cost is also substantial.Road testing is done at speed not at sub 10mph in a parking lot, passing on the right is illegal with a stiff fine and drivers shift lanes to the left to allow a car entering the highway from an on ramp to merge. Comparing the testing and licensing systems between any state in the US to Germany's is like comparing apples to oranges.

  • chuckbiscuits Oct 28, 2013

    "I've seen no investigative reporting on how just an expensive mistake could have occurred, have you?"

    AFAIK, at the time the work was originally done, it was not known that the highway would degrade either during or after its scheduled lifetime. The biggest takeaway from this is that it is important to maintain your infrastructure even if you don't want to spend money on said maintenance because failing to do so is much, much more expensive. There is more to fiscal responsibility than simply refusing to spend money.