Local News

Opening of New I-540 Stretch Delayed Again

Posted December 28, 2006
Updated December 29, 2006

The long-awaited opening of the Interstate 540 extension has been delayed again.

The new 7½-mile stretch from U.S. Highway 64 to Capital Boulevard was scheduled to open before the first of the year, but project leaders said Thursday that isn't going to happen. Drivers will have to wait at least another month to travel the new stretch of I-540.

Project leaders said they hope open the new roadway by the last week in January, but they aren't making any promises.

"I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping that would open pretty soon," said Bret Owen, a driver who plans to use the new extension once it's finished for his daily travel to work at Research Triangle Park.

"I don't understand why it's taken so long. Why can't they go and speed it up?" said Carla Jones of Clayton.

The multimillion-dollar project has hit some roadblocks. Officials said that building a highway through environmentally sensitive land has been one of the biggest challenges for the project.

The extension has been under construction for more than three years. The opening has been delayed more than once, and the price tag has been driven up by those delays. The $67 million project now totals $73 million.

"It's kind of typical, I guess, but unfortunately I think that's the way it goes with some of the road construction projects sometimes. I know sometimes there are a lot of hidden costs. I guess that's the price of growth sometimes," said Cory Jenkins, a driver who told WRAL he's anxious to see the project complete.

Crews have been working seven days a week to get the job done. Paving on Dec. 16 around the Capital Boulevard interchange, currently the end of the interstate, created backups of two hours for residents and holiday shoppers trying to get to several retail centers in the area.

"I'll just have to wait a little longer. but I'm still looking forward to it opening," said Owens.

State officials said they are busy trying to tie up some last-minute loose ends. The contractor hired to do the project could face a fine up $10,000 a day for each day the project falls behind schedule. But state officials told WRAL that many of the delays were out of the contractor's hands.

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  • nursevb8 Jan 8, 2007

    Well, wfisher5 you must be one of those drivers that stay in the left lane to make your way further up at the bottle neck. I go straight to 40E. I want 540 done as much if not more than any. It will save almost 20 min. off my 50-60 min. commute. But do it right. V & G know their work well, they're from WV. Must be all the outside influences and the lousy/lazy help they have. I see so many people standing around in the mornings and evenings daily. DO SOMETHING!

  • tflynn Jan 5, 2007

    I have never, never heard of a highway project being completed on time, so I'm not surprised that the new 540 stretch has been delayed yet again. I cross over part of the extension every day on Fox Rd. This part has been done for quite a while (paved, lines painted, signs up, grass planted in median, etc.) and is just sitting there unused except for a couple of DOT pickups drag racing up and down it from time to time. I can't see why this part can't be opened up to relieve the traffic situation in this area right now.

  • LTL Jan 4, 2007

    I was suprised how fast the 64bypass was finished but yet Lindo and his mental midgets drag their butts on 540.Its funny I havent seeh them working on sat and sun maybe its time to hire some more illegals to get the project rolling

  • usnn Dec 29, 2006

    I agree with wfisher5's point about the exit onto 40-W in the mornings...it's dangerous. You have the same effect at the Falls of Neuse exit at the end of the day. So much for 'planning'!

  • Videoman Dec 29, 2006

    MAN!! What a bunch of whiners! Our interstate system is not perfect, but it is about the best, and the safest, in the world. In order to make our roads safe, it takes time. Our DOT is working to protect YOUR safety. Ask yourself this question, who would you blame the first time there is an accident if the road opened too early? You'd blame DOT for not being prudent enough.
    You think engineering a major highway system is a cake walk, then form your own company and give it a try. Otherwise, let the professionals do their jobs.

    And thatlwrk does have a great point. If the Environmentalist Whackos would get out of the way, the entire I-540 project would have been completed years ago.

  • freddie cadetti 72 Dec 29, 2006

    There's one problem and one problem only with the delays...Environmental Whacos! This section has been delayed several times due to some whaco environmental issue. Likewise, thousands of cars and trucks back up every day on U.S. 70 through Clayton, causing vehicle emmisions to pollute the area and why? All because of a 10 year delay on the by-pass now under construction, due to some tiny little organism in a creek bed. I wonder why the enviomental whacos didn't consider all the extra pollution from backed up vehicles in saving some tadpoll !!! You whacos stop ruinning my life! (HAHAHAHA)!!!

  • sflemon Dec 29, 2006

    The actual problem is not the DOT, not civil engineers, nor the lawmakers.

    It's the people that elect them. Us. You can't have brand new schools in every new "popcorn" neighborhood, new 4 lane roads, and the level of service citizens have come to expect without paying taxes.

    I admit there IS waste.

    However, SOME people, ahem, believe that they'd rather have a $50 tax cut instead.

    Sorry, the trickle down effect does not work, that is a BASIC principle of economics.

  • Hevans1012 Dec 29, 2006

    Here is my complaint! If you are exiting the new I540 coming onto 401 S there is a very short merge to get on. I live in the neighborhood that shares the merge to get into my neighborhood. From experience people merging onto Capital Blvd. North from 540 do not care that there is an exit to get into the Smoketree subdivision where Foster's Autobody is. I have had several near misses trying to get into Smoketree where my parents used to live. DOT needs to put stoplights up on both of these merges just like Falls of Neuse.

  • builder276 Dec 29, 2006

    kcfoxie, spoken like a true redneck. You don't care if it falls apart. Great let's open it, you can drive on it once, they can close it for 2 years to repair it. What kind of reasoning is that. Yes, you sound like you were educated in the excellent schools in NC, by the way, being sarcastic about the schools

  • dhamma Dec 29, 2006

    It appears we are seeing more and more issues with these contractors. I take it they place bids on these projects and the state goes with the lowest bid ? Sounds to me like it's time to improve the process. This is a never ending story with road projects.