RALEIGH, N.C. — Engineers with the state Department of Transportation are about to shut down a series of ramps off Interstate 40 West through Durham County.
Starting July 9, motorists will not be able to access westbound I-40 from the Durham Freeway. However, Raleigh and Durham will stay connected using I-40 and the freeway.
On July 23, DOT officials will shut down westbound on- and off-ramps at Fayetteville Road. Later this summer, westbound Interstate 40 access will be cut off at Highway 55 and Highway 751. Each ramp closure will last two months and some ramp closures will overlap.
"The road will be better when we're finished," DOT engineer Eben Miller said. "This is a rehabilitation of [Interstate] 40. The end product, I think, is well worth the inconvenience it's causing in the short term."
Some motorists do not share the DOT's optimism.
"It's going to really inconvenience us and slow our work down a lot because we do two or three jobs a day along [Interstate] 40," contractor Marty Cash said.
"If it's going to be 60 days, it's going to be right into the start of football season and then we like to come to Southpoint every once and a while to do a little shopping, so that's going to be a big inconvenience for us," motorist Frank Stokes said.
Along with the ramp closures, there will be a lane shift for I-40 drivers. Right now, traffic is flowing on one lane of the interstate and the shoulder. Traffic will soon be shifted to the two new lanes toward the median.
DOT officials said widening I-40 through Durham will take until the end of next year. Electronic message boards will help guide motorists through all the ramp closures.
The latest round of ramp shutdowns is a by-product of last summer's work in the eastbound lanes of I-40. Engineers tried to keep the ramps open using stop signs, but so many driver complaints came in that the DOT scrapped the stop signs.
DOT officials said the only way to complete the widening safely is to shut down the ramps.