Local News

Repaving I-795 could cost up to $22M

Posted January 8, 2009 1:40 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Possible structural deficiencies on the 18 miles of Interstate 795 could cost the state Department of Transportation anywhere from $14 million to $22 million to repair, the agency said Thursday.

A new report from the Federal Highway Administration recommends removing the existing surface layers and adding 2.5 to 3 inches of pavement on the road, which runs from Wilson to Goldsboro.

Cracks surfaced along a 2.5-mile stretch of the $120 million highway within months after it opened in 2005. Despite extensive tests, neither the DOT nor the contractor could determine what was causing the crumbling.

The FHWA's report partly blames air pockets in two hot-mix asphalt layers for the problems, but it suggests overweight trucks on the road also could be to blame.

Repairs are already under way to fix large potholes and cracks. That is costing the state more than $483,000, the DOT said.

DOT chief engineer Jon Nance said the agency would likely pay a majority of the cost because the problems were not discovered until after a 12-month warranty had expired. He said the federal government and contractor, S. T. Wooten, might cover a portion of it.

"We're going to look at some of the root causes and find out what happened, when it occurred and why it occurred," Nance said. "I don't think, today, we're in a position to say what the contractor will or won't do."

The federal report notes that the pavement was designed according to DOT procedures and that it was appropriate for the assumed traffic.

"We fully performed the project, and believe any problems are not attributable, in any way, to S.T. Wooten's performance of the work," the company's Ricky Vick said.

The DOT said that a February 2008 study found that overall traffic was about half of that assumed for the design, but that truck traffic was significantly higher than what was expected and that a significant portion of those trucks were 10 percent overweight.

This is not the first time the DOT has had problems with crumbling pavement along a major roadway.

In 2007, it spent about $22 million to repave a 10.6-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Durham after finding that expansion joints were improperly constructed when new concrete was laid on top of the old during a widening project.