Local News

I-85 Construction In Durham Could Last For Years

Posted January 24, 2003 1:55 a.m. EST

— Lane closures, concrete barriers and orange barrels are all part of life for anyone who drives Interstate 85 through Durham. The Department of Transportation said crews could be there longer than expected.

The DOT is working on a massive overhaul of I-85. There are new ramps, new interchanges, and a new problem.

"On the first segment, we are running slightly behind schedule due to the delays with utilities and changes to the plans. I hope that we'll make up a lot of time this construction season," said Michelle Long, DOT resident engineer.

Relocating utilities and hitting solid bedrock in some areas has set the project back. With good weather, engineers think they can get back on schedule.

Just beyond the orange barrels, where crews are working on bridge supports and are carving out a new ramp, sits Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet School.

The school hopes the road work will be finished soon, because it is caught right in the middle of the construction.

"There have been comments that the children have made that have said that they were afraid that somebody might fall off the highway and end up on the playground," Principal Carolyn Ridout said.

Students, like Brandon Head, are studying the effects on the student body.

"The noise, the debris off the cars -- we can't even hear the fire drill sometimes if our teacher's trying to call us in," he said.

Even under ideal conditions, the construction along I-85 will continue for several more years.

Engineers think they will have the new link from Highway 70 to I-85 North finished by May.