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Lawmakers, DOT Officials Discuss Sharing Costs For I-40 Repairs

Posted November 14, 2006

On Tuesday, lawmakers quizzed the state Department of Transportation over mistakes made in a Interstate 40 pavement job, and discussed how to pay for the fix. One controversial idea is to spread out the cost of the fix.

Officials estimate that repairs to the botched concrete paving job on I-40 from the Durham Freeway to U.S. 15-501 will cost millions of dollars. Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett told legislators that the federal government, Granite Construction, and HNTB Engineering should share in the repair costs with the DOT.

"I have never been pleased with failure," Tippett said. "This is a failure on my agency as well as the others we rely on."

Even if the federal government handles most of the $18 million to $30 million cost, those funds could be deducted from the Triangle's yearly dose of road building dollars. Triangle legislators want to spread that bill around. The DOT had issued an estimate that the cost would be approximately $18.6 million.

"There's no doubt it should be re-allocated to the whole state," said Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake. "DOT engineers made a huge boo-boo. They don't work for Wake County or the Triangle's Division 5 -- they work for the whole state."

"I'm not an engineer, but I know enough about concrete to know you'd better put some kind of a joint in it," said Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake. "That's pretty basic and I don't understand how that fundamental of a mistake could be made by people who are well-qualified engineers."

There is at least one place in the Triangle where the DOT successfully used the concrete-overtop-of-asphalt paving technique -- along the Beltline near Poole Road. The difference is that inspectors made sure expansion joints were cut properly.

DOT officials are still trying to figure out exactly who should be disciplined or fired for the mistake, and how much the repair will cost. Thestate Board of Transportation will consider how it wants to handle the repair costs at its meeting next month. The matter could still end up in court.

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