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Traffic jam costly to drivers, contractor

Posted October 2, 2009

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— State officials fined a contractor $15,000 after nightly work on a resurfacing project on Interstate 40 continued into rush hour Friday morning, creating a 10-mile traffic jam.

I-40 road work causes 8-mile traffic jam I-40 road work causes 8-mile traffic jam

Equipment malfunctions forced Rea Contracting LLC of Raleigh to close all but one lane around Aviation Parkway until 7:30 a.m. The contractor couldn't leave until completing all safety precautions, including finishing the asphalt and painting lines.

The state charged Rea Contracting $2,500 for every 15 minutes the lanes were closed past 6 a.m. The contract stipulates lanes can only be closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At its worst, traffic was squeezed down to one lane, and backups were reported for more than 10 miles. Drivers said the back-up added more than an hour to their commute.

"This morning, I'm like, 'Oh, I'm not going to make, I'm not going to make it," said commuter Danelle Gaddy. She said she had a report to finish by 8:30 a.m., but sympathetic co-workers let her turn it in two hours late.

Catering Works' vehicles carrying food for a breakfast in Research Triangle Park also got stuck in the traffic jam for nearly two hours.

"It's very frustrating, because in our business, timing is everything," Catering Works owner Jill Kucera. "Our staff was very stressed out."

Road workers were bedeviled by several equipment break-downs in a row, state Department of Transportation officials said.

First, an asphalt plant stopped working. After a replacement arrived, a hydraulic hose on a shuttle buggy busted, then a subcontractor's painting equipment broke down.

"(There were) not one, not two but three equipment malfunctions this morning," DOT spokesman Wally Bowman said. "We're very sorry for the inconvenience for the public traveling through there."

In the end, stuck commuters said they also felt sorry for the equipment failure-plagued road workers.

"(It's) not life or death. It's definitely understandable," Gaddy said.

"I feel bad for them," Kucera said. "I'm just glad it all worked out for us as well."

The contractor was evaluating whether it will resume work Friday night, DOT officials said.

The 6.8-mile resurfacing project from Wade Avenue to I-540 began in June and could be finished as early as December, well ahead of the the original May 2010 deadline.

That section of I-40 carries about 150,000 vehicles each day and was last resurfaced 11 years ago. The pavement has potholes and cracks and is being resurfaced to prevent worse problems in the near future, DOT officials said.

The $5.9 million project is being funded through Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles, also known as GARVEE bonds. They allow the acceleration of federal funding to help finance projects sooner and avoid cost increases due to construction inflation, DOT officials said.

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  • stephenbracy Oct 2, 2009

    I realize everyones time is valuable, but things do happen that are beyond anyone's control.
    I moved from North Carolina to Chicago two years ago.....You should feel blessed that this is not an everyday occurance as it is here. And ours are not from breakdowns, they will shut down all but one lane of traffic on any given morning and on any of the MANY tollways they currently have ripped up.

    Trust me, It could be A LOT worse!!

  • IliveinwhackogopcontrolledNC Oct 2, 2009

    "This morning, I'm like, 'Oh, I'm not going to make, I'm not going to make it," said commuter Danelle Gaddy. She said she had a report to finish by 8:30 a.m., but sympathetic co-workers let her turn it in two hours late."

    Is it possible that people can either explain or express themselves without starting every sentence with 'I'm like." I realize it may be cute or a fad but pleeeeeeeeeeze.

  • james27613 Oct 2, 2009

    At least we have REA doing the work instead of some
    other contractor from California that botched up the
    I-40 concrete paving in Durham, NC DOT (taxpayers) had to
    foot the bill to repave it all with asphalt to fix the problem.

  • yellow_hat Oct 2, 2009

    Of course they should be fined - they signed the agreement. Equipment failure is a foreseeable part of their business, and no different than any other cause that could have been mitigated with proper planning and resources. The contractor chose not have those resources available - their decision, their liability.

  • FairPlay Oct 2, 2009

    The state is constantly re repairing roads that get messed up in the job in the first place. We need a better system instead of wasting all this money.

  • DLWilliams Oct 2, 2009

    So the State snatched up $15k as a fine on the contractor for equipment malfunctions out of its control, but the commuters stuck in that mess get an apology.

  • nofear Oct 2, 2009

    So they did more work in that 1 1/2, then ussual. Things happen. Safety first, a lot of you can't drive to start with.

  • me2you Oct 2, 2009

    I despise traffic backups, but if they had broken equipment and couldn't help it, I'm not sure they should be fined.

  • ncmickey Oct 2, 2009

    "the amount of ignorance in these comments is mind boggling."

    Amen. GOLO has become an angry, ugly place. There is more common sense in DC.... and we all know there aint much there at all.....

  • citizen08 Oct 2, 2009

    Based on most of the complaining going on, I doubt most of you have any knowledge of construction contracts, bidding, or equipment failures; especially those who are speculating about kickbacks.
    The road is being re-paved because of cracks that you cannot see when traveling 65+ mph, WRAL aired this a few days ago. All of you would be complaining in the winter when all the pot-holes appear from the cracks.
    The DOT probably selected which roads to re-pave based on the traffic volumes, which I have seen a lot of sensors.
    You would not want the contractor to "just get off the road" at 6 if the job is not done as the road is very rough with no lines. Stop and think of how many wrecks that would occurred if there were no lane markings.
    The best comment on here was the suggestion to build using concrete in the first place, which has a much longer service life.

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