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More Traffic Hassles Coming To I-40 In Durham County

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DURHAM COUNTY, N.C. — As busy as Interstate 40 is, it is only two lanes through much of Durham County. The

state Department of Transportation

is going to change that.

Crews are just putting up the signs, warning drivers that a

widening project

is about to get under way. One lane will be added in each direction of I-40 from the Durham Freeway to 15-501.

For the past few months, crews have been widening I-40 from I-540 to the Durham Freeway. There have been some lane shifts and lane closures at night, but the impact has been relatively minimal. That will not be the case with the new phase of the I-40 widening project.

The DOT said that it will have to close lanes, and sometimes ramps, even during rush hours. The main reason is that since the road is already concrete, the widening will be done in concrete.

"It's not like an asphalt pavement where you can ride on that surface a couple of hours after it's been placed. It takes a curing time for it to build its strength, and sometimes that curing time can be 14 days to a month," said Wiley Jones, DOT resident engineer.

What does that mean for drivers who use I-40 from 15-501 to the Durham Freeway? The concrete curing time could mean interchanges like Fayetteville Road could be shut down in one direction for up to a month.

"In order for you to get to the location that you want if the ramp is closed, you might have to go up an interchange, swing around and come back down. We won't close both the eastbound and the westbound accesses to that intersection at the same time," Jones said.

The $44 million project will take about 2 1/2 years to complete. In the end, I-40 will be three lanes from the Durham Freeway to the Orange County line.

The DOT has worked out some incentives that should help get the job done on time. If the contractor does not meet the state's timetable, they can be fined up to $20,000 a day.


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