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Improvements on troubled I-795 recognized

Interstate 795 in eastern North Carolina opened in 2005, and within 16 months, the $120 million road inexplicably started crumbling.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Interstate 795 in eastern North Carolina opened in 2005, and within 16 months, the $120 million road inexplicably started crumbling.

Millions of dollars were spent repairing it, and nearly seven years after the highway opened, the state and the company that helped repave it is being recognized for its work.

The National Asphalt Pavement Association on Wednesday awarded the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Wilson-based S.T. Wooten Corp. with the 2011 Sheldon G. Hayes Award.

According to the group's website, the honor recognizes "high-quality construction practices resulting in smooth, safe and durable pavements."

"It's great. I mean, it's like winning the Super Bowl of the asphalt paving industry," Wooten general manager Reade Dawson said. "There is no higher award than this. It doesn't get any bigger than this."

Wooten won the $5.9 million contract in 2009 to repave an 8-mile stretch of the roadway.

A DOT investigation into the pavement problems determined that, in part, state standards were inadequate in making sure the roadway would be able to handle traffic.

"I'm very proud of the award," DOT engineer Wendi Johnson said. "I think it shows that even if you have a meager beginning, you can still achieve a very high standard."

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Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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