Local News

Road-Widening Project In RTP Hits Major Snags

Posted November 4, 2004 4:31 a.m. EST

— How long should it take to widen less than a mile of road?

One project right in the middle of Research Triangle Park has taken almost 2.5 years.

Thousands of RTP commuters say they're fed up with all the orange barrels.

"It's been very frustrating. We've had to find alternate routes; back roads," said motorist Kathy Wendell. "You never know if it's a good day to come through and you get stuck in the traffic and then you can't turn around."

On the map, the project seems simple: widen the road from two to four lanes slightly less than a mile of Alexander Drive, from Miami Boulevard to the Durham Freeway. The project was supposed to be finished in September 2003. Still, the barrels remain.

"I could'a told you about a year and half ago they weren't gonna get it done, but they've been very slow working on it," said Doug Vance, who drives the route. "They have about three guys a day out there."

So what has delayed the project?

The N.C. Department of Transportation says utility problems, weather problems, and contractor problems are among the reasons.

Contractor W.E. Garrison filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. The DOT doesn't know if Garrison or someone else will now have to finish the job.

And there's another problem: The DOT says the contractor has not put pavement in up to state standards -- they're going to have to fix that. The DOT says the contractor should have done better and they're also looking at what the DOT could have done better.

"We probably could've partnered better, the department could've done a better job -- that's my office. We probably could've worked a little bit better during the construction season," said Bob Shultes, DOT engineer. "But we're working better now that we know what the problems are."

The DOT says no matter who finishes Alexander Drive, they'll try to have it done by the first of the year.