Traffic

DOT Makes Immediate Changes Following Rash Of I-40 Workzone Accidents

Posted July 22, 2004

— The

state Department of Transportation

is making some immediate changes to stop the rash of accidents near construction workzones on Interstate 40 in Durham.

On July 9, a

tractor-trailer

ran through a group of cars on I-40, killing a man and seriously injuring his 4-year-old daughter. Three days later, a six-car pile-up on the interstate near Highway 55 caused a major traffic jam. On July 19, a

seven-car pile-up

caused two tractor trailers to collide on I-40 near the Durham Freeway exit.

The DOT blames aggressive drivers, but announced more plans to protect motorists.

At the time of the wrecks, the director of construction said there were an adequate number of signs. Two days later, DOT officials said they planned to put up more warning signs -- on the side of the road and overhead.

"The end result is performance. If we do things or don't do things and we continue to have wrecks, then we need to consider all possibilities," DOT engineer Jon Nance said.

On Tuesday, the department announced plans to step up law enforcement patrols.

"We're trying to focus on outside the barrier rails, law enforcement will focus inside. Hopefully a combination of that is going to help," Nance said.

The Highway Patrol says it issued 34 citations in and around the I-40 work zone in Durham County Wednesday; 11 of the citations issued were for speeding. The Highway Patrol will continue the enforcement project through August 15.

The DOT has offered contractor Granite Construction $500,000 to finish a stretch of I-40 a year early, by December.

"I think it's a very good possibility the contractor will meet the dates that we have agreed upon," Nance said.

The agency will start sending construction warnings to truckers over CB radio and the DOT will no longer use stop signs on the entrance ramps.

and

Megan Hughes

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