Lane closures begin Monday night in '40/440 Fortify' project
Posted October 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.