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Weather Giving Cold Shoulder to I-40 Repaving Schedule

Weather is working against state plans for a Monday night start to the I-40 repaving project in Orange and Durham counties.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The long process of repaving a stretch of Interstate 40 in Durham and Orange counties where repaving was done incorrectly is not expected to begin on time Monday night unless cold air moves out of the area, and neither the North Carolina Department of Transportation nor weather forecasters said that was likely to happen.

Repaving cannot be done if air temperatures are too low for new asphalt to cure properly, Phillip Johnson, a resident engineer, told WRAL's Mark Roberts.

Crews need temperatures in the mid to upper 40s for the work to go on, NCDOT spokeswoman Nichole Burris said.

WRAL's forecast called for a low temperature near freezing overnight Monday. Tuesday night's forecast was for 44 degrees.

Work will be done at night seven days a week and for up to nine weekends once the prject gets under way, NCDOT says.

A two-mile stretch of I-40 eastbound in Orange County, from Rt. 15-501 to N.C. 54 will be the first week zone, with two of three lanes closed.

Work is scheduled for Monday through Friday, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night and from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All lanes will be open on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition to the overnight work, up to nine all-weekend lane closures can occur beginning at 8 p.m. on Fridays and ending at 6 a.m. on Mondays. Motorists can expect ramp closures along this section of I-40 in mid-summer. Work on I-40 West is anticipated to begin in early July and will start at N.C. 147, the Durham Freeway.

The project is to repair paving that was done wrong a few years ago will begin April 9, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Work on the 10.4-mile stretch of the roadway in Durham County from the Durham Freeway to the Orange County line will also require nightly lane closures on I-40 and periodic weekend closures thereafter.

The stretch of highway was widened three years ago, but the $50 million project began crumbling shortly after its completion. The DOT and highway contractors argued for months over who was to blame before deciding to split the $21 million cost to repair the pavement.

The DOT contracted Lane Construction Corp., of Meriden, Conn., for the repair job, which will continue through November and resume in March 2008. It is set to be complete by May 2008.

Details about the closures, including specific dates, times and locations, will be announced as the construction schedule is finalized and the project progresses, the DOT said. Information is in the NCDOT I-40 project Web site announcement.

The DOT is also talking with the trucking industry to help avoid major delays that motorists experienced during the original paving in 2003 and 2004.

"Our folks are meeting with the trucking industry to talk about this project, how long it's going to take, how much safer and quicker it'll be if they take the alternate route that we're suggesting," said DOT division engineer Wally Bowman. "We really think the trucking industry will abide by that."

The alternate route for motorists traveling east on I-40 is to take Interstate 85 to the Durham Freeway and for motorists traveling west to take the reverse route.

"No matter which way you go—we can't emphasize enough—this will not affect the morning commute or the afternoon commute," Bowman said.


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