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Work On Next Phase Of I-540 Already Behind Schedule

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Department of Transportation

engineers tried to start on the next leg of I-540 Monday. But rain washed out that plan.

Already delayed by a day after just one day of the project, work on the next piece of the outer-loop puzzle could leave drivers shaking their heads.

The plan was to get the surveyors out and maybe start clearing some trees. Instead, the workers just stood and watched a driving rain hit pavement.

Once they get going, engineers plan to finish the seven miles from Capital Boulevard to Highway 64 by April 15, 2006.

Weather permitting, of course.

"Just be patient," said Bob Shultes, the DOT resident engineer. "Hopefully, we have selected a pretty decent contractor, and, hopefully, we'll complete on time. And with that in mind, I think it will be a positive project."

Drivers can expect the first construction hassles on Highway 64 between Planter's Walk and Hodge Road, where workers are building the 64/540 interchange. A four-lane detour road divided by jersey barriers will carry all that traffic through a crowded corridor while the interchange is built.

Also, the DOT will have to move 1 milliion cubic yards of dirt from one side of 64 to the other. All winter long, 64 will have periodic lane closures, from midnight to 5 a.m.

"Motorists need to expect delays," Shultes said, "expect alternate traffic patterns, alternate-route detours. Just use caution and patience in the workzone."

When the work is finished, 540 will connect to the 64 bypass and take motorists from Knightdale to I-40 on the edge of RTP.

Everyone just hopes Mother Nature is in on the project.

If contractors can finish the project early, in late 2005, they can earn up to $1 million in bonus money from the DOT.


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