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DOT: Standards for crumbling I-795 were inadequate

Posted July 16, 2009

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— Inspectors testing an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 795 from Wilson to Goldsboro followed all state standards and policies but the standards themselves were inadequate in making sure the roadway would be able to handle traffic.

That's according to final findings released Thursday from the North Carolina Department of Transportation that a combination of "extremely dry" pavement mix and "marginal asphalt pavement thickness" caused premature cracking on a 2.5-mile stretch of the highway's pavement.

Jim Trogdon Final report out on I-795 paving mishap

The $120 million I-795 opened in December 2005, but within the first 16 months of being opened to the public, the pavement began failing, leaving large cracks and numerous potholes on part of the interstate.

The DOT said that marginal thickness of the pavement made it more susceptible to the damaging effects of traffic along the route and that the low amount of binding cement material may have contributed to the poor performance of the pavement.

Even without any issues with the mixture, testing would have predicted a shorter pavement life than the DOT wanted.

"The fact that this pavement began to exhibit signs of distress soon after the project was completed has been a matter of great concern," the DOT's chief operating officer, Jim Trogdon, said. "Since this problem was first discovered, we have been working to determine its underlying cause, correct the issue and prevent it from happening again."

As a result of its findings, the DOT has changed its standards and is reviewing its process and criteria for certain mixtures.

"The goal is to keep this from happening again in North Carolina," Trogdon said.

In January, the Federal Highway Administration recommended removing existing surface layers of the pavement and repaving the entire 18-mile stretch with 3 inches of surface.

The DOT said Thursday that it will repave by the end of the winter, the entire 18-mile stretch with 3 inches of surface at a cost of an estimated $13 million.

Because the DOT discovered the issue four months after its 12-month warranty on the highway had expired – an administrator said an extended warranty was purchased because of the cost increase – it will have to pay for the project.

Officials are still determining how, Trogdon said. The cost comes at a time when the department has limited funds and one of the worst budget crises in state history.

"We're still working on, not only on when to schedule repairs but the funding source," he said. "Utimately, the DOT will pay. Ultimately, the taxpayer."

The problem has already cost the state $1.8 million to repair some of the larger cracks and potholes. Those repairs were complete last fall.

This is not the first time the DOT has had problems with crumbling pavement along a major roadway.

In 2007, it spent about $22 million to repave a 10.6-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Durham after finding that expansion joints were improperly constructed when new concrete was laid on top of the old during a widening project.

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  • pbjbeach Jul 23, 2009

    KEN D

    AFTER THE FACT MY BU-- WHEN YOU ATTEMPT TO BRING THINGS TO THE ATTENTION OF THE NCDOT MANGAMENT YOU GET LAUGH AT AN PAID NO ATTENTION TO LIKE AS IF YOU DID NOT KNOW OF WHAT YOU WERE SPEAKING TO BEGIN WITH . THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AN UTLIMATELY WRONG WITH THE INER WORKINGS OF THE NCDOT MANGAMENT THEY JUST PLAINLY REFUSE TO LISTEN TO ANYONE ABOUT ANYTHING THAT IS UNLESS YOU ARE HOLDING A P.E. DEGREE IN YOUR HAND FROM NC STATE UNVERISTY AN THEN YOU CAN DO NO WRONG. THANK YOU

  • pbjbeach Jul 23, 2009

    BANDIT
    (CONTINUED)
    SMALLER SIZE OF THE STONE USED IN THE NEWER ASPHALT MIXTURES AN THIS IS RESULTING IN A WHOLE LOT LESS SUPPRTING VALUE WHEN IT COME TO THE WEIGHT LOADS THAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF HANDLING UNDER TRAFFICE CONDITIONS ( SIMPLE )(& SMALLER SIZE STONE = LESS SUPPORTING VALUE UNDER TRAFFIC LOADS ) THESE MIXTURES WERE DESIGN SO AS TO DECREASE THE OVERALL COST TO THESE CONTRACTORS CHARGED WITH PRODUCING THESE ASPHALT MIXTURES AN THE TAXPAYERS OF THIS STATE ARE GETTING SCRE--- OVER FOR THE PRODUCT THAT THEY AS TAXPAYERS ARE ACTUAL PAYING FOR TO BE USED IN STATE HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION OF ASPHALT ROADWAYS. THANK YOU

  • pbjbeach Jul 23, 2009

    BANDIT

    You obvisously dont relize that these aspahlt mixs were in all probability were coludied on between theses contractors an the ncdot to strart with as it pertains to the design of these asphalt mixtures for i have know an relized for quit some time that these mixture were beinging intinally designed to fail in a much shorter period of a time frame than were the older conventional types of asphalt mixtures commonly know as S.A.S.F , B.C.S.C.-I-1, I-2, AN H-BINDER , BCBC-HB-BASE COURSE MIXTURES ALONG WITH THE FACTS THAT THE CURRENT PAVEMENT GRADES OF LIQUID ASPHALT ARE ALSO SUBSTANDARE AN DO NOT HAVE THE ADHEAVISE FACTOR THAT THE OLDER STRAIGHT AC GRADES OF LIQUID ASPHALTS HAD THUS RESULTING IN A LESSER AMOUNT OF BINDING QUAILITY WITH THE SAND & STONE USED IN THE MIXTURES ALONG WITH THE FACTS THAT THE GRADUATIONS AS CURRENTLY REQUIRED REQUIRED THE USE IN THE MIXTURES OF A SAMALER PERCENTAGE OF STONE AN THIS STONE USED IN THESE MIXTURE IS OF A WHOLE LOT SMALLER SIZE IN THESE

  • bandit Jul 17, 2009

    pbjbeach, you are correct in saying that the contractors design the asphalt pavement mixes, but they are designed under the parameters set by the NCDOT and are approved by NCDOT. Contractors have very strict guidelines they use in designing these mixes. So I do not see where S.T. Wooten is responsible for any problems in this situation.

  • lkanzig Jul 17, 2009

    "People make mistakes. When you have a $4 billion budget, a $15 million mistake isn't so big (0.4% mistake). "

    $15 MILLION ISNT SO BIG???
    ARE YOU CRAZY??
    $15 MILLION DOLLARS!
    I 40 AND THIS MESS?
    PROVES THEY DONT HAVE A CLUE JUST LIKE YOUR BELOVED SO CALLED GOVENOR AND LEGISLATURE!
    lets see you make a $15 million dollar mistake at work and see how long you have a job!

  • holycow - lover of Pi Jul 17, 2009

    "DOT: Standards for crumbling I-795 were inadequate"

    gee, ya think?

    "Utimately, the DOT will pay. Ultimately, the taxpayer"

    ...when this guy was being interviewed he was tapdancing around this statement until he finally blurted out 'the taxpayer'. The real quote ended first with "the DOT will pay". Then Mildwulf followed up "the DOT?". Then that was followed by "Ultimately the Taxpayer" as the interviewee shuffled about.

  • Surething Jul 17, 2009

    "jo - I hear ya! It's not like we have no experience with road building in this state. Isn't ironic that we were once known as the "good roads state"?"

    then again you have to realize these jobs are going to people with no experience in this industry, but merely they are getting the jobs because they are unemployed and apply for them and fit the category that the money was set aside for...especially these new porkulus roads that will be fixed.

  • scientistjo Jul 17, 2009

    "One problem is that DOT gets half of the funding that it needs."

    All the more reason to get the job right the first time. (or maybe even second?)

  • killerkestrel Jul 17, 2009

    One problem is that DOT gets half of the funding that it needs. NC actually spends less (per mile) than 47 other states. But when they get around to doing a project, the project has gone up in price, so they try to cut corners to stretch a dollar. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Most folks in the DOT are trying to do what is best, but when you don't have enough budget for it and politics is breathing down your back, you end up with a poor product.

    People make mistakes. When you have a $4 billion budget, a $15 million mistake isn't so big (0.4% mistake). Yes, it shouldn't have happened, but it did, and more will. Why? Because people make mistakes. When you build a house, folks find out they chose the wrong cabinets or carpet or something else. And the homeowner gets stuck with the bill. You do your best to minimize mistakes, but they still will happen.

  • Ken D. Jul 17, 2009

    jo - I hear ya! It's not like we have no experience with road building in this state. Isn't ironic that we were once known as the "good roads state"?

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