Local News

Harrison Avenue Bottleneck Worsened by Bridge Painting

Posted June 8, 1998

— Traffic on I-40 has been squeezed, and squeezed some more. Monday night, the interstate was shut down completely at the Harrison Avenue bridge. It's an on-again, off-again project that has drivers frustrated and confused.

Two lanes of I-40 west were already closed Monday evening at Harrison Avenue. The third was closed around midnight and re-opened just in time for the morning commute.

Work crews needed to close all three lanes of traffic so they could paint the Harrison Avenue bridge at Interstate 40. The trouble is, 34,000 cars still need to use the bridge every day. Contractors are trying a compromise. They'll work in the middle of the night when there are fewer cars on the road.

"The traffic's gonna be routed up the I-40 west exit ramp at Harrison and back down to I-40 on ramp to 40 west," explained DOT engineer Raymond Hayes.

Thousands of people use Harrison Avenue for access to I-40. In the past, construction has slowed traffic and stretched the patience of Triangle commuters.

"It's a headache when you're trying to get home," admits Edward Harper, a commuter. "I mean, when you get off work you just want to go home and take a bath and relax."

Patrick Gaynor works in the RTP, and says the I-40 construction doubles his commute, sometimes adding an hour to his day.

"I vote for working on the roads, but we've got to help people get home and get to work during the day," Gaynor said.

Contractors hope to do just that, by completing their work in the middle of the night. Signs warning commuters about lane closures will remain a familiar sight for the next month or so. The DOT says one lane on I-40 will be closed every week night until the project is finished.

"It's just inevitable," Hayes explained. "You can't build the road without affecting traffic some way, unless it's a new location."

I-40 westbound will be closed again Tuesday night. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, two lanes of I-40 eastbound will shut down.

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