Local News

DOT Says Orange Barrels Sign Of Progress, Not Hindrance

Posted April 27, 2004 8:06 a.m. EDT

— For years, Triangle drivers have complained that Interstate 40 needs more lanes. Crews have finished the latest widening through Wake County, but the work through much of Durham and Orange counties keeps going, and drivers are getting tired of seeing all the orange barrels -- barrels that some drivers think are keeping them off finished lanes.

Traveling on I-40, you can see why people are upset. Going westbound, as you approach 15-501, all three lanes of 40 are open for business. But cross the median and look at the eastbound lanes; the third new lane is blocked by barrels.

The seemingly-finished, barrel-blocked lanes stretch for about three miles along eastbound 40. When asked what was the reason, DOT enginner Jon Nance said, "it's all about safety."

Nance admitted that opening up the new lanes might appear to ease traffic flow, but the new three-lane sections lead straight into two-lane sections still under construction. The bottlenecks and competitive passing in the merge lanes could cause a lot of problems.

"I can assure you that we want to open additional lanes as quickly as we can," Nance said. "But we want to make sure it's safe. With these types of things to be worried about on an open construction project, we need to make sure we make good decisions."

Nance predicted about another year and a half of barrels blocking lanes and I-40 construction.