Orange Barrels Coming Off Area Highways

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Highway construction zones that slowed many travelers over the Labor Day weekend should soon start disappearing, according to state Department of Transportation officials.

The next leg of Interstate 540, stretching from Capital Boulevard southeast to U.S. Highway 64, is expected to be open by December, DOT officials said. That's eight months behind initial projections.

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    The extension will provide easier access for Knightdale and eastern Wake County to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Research Triangle Park.

    "It'll make it better for me to go way around because I stay here in Knightdale. So, instead of me going to (Interstate) 40, trying to hit the existing 540 or (U.S. Highway) 70, I can just get on right here at home," driver Jerrell Thomas said.

    At the other end of I-540, a four-mile extension from I-40 to N.C. Highway 55 in Apex isn't expected to open until next August, officials said.

    Much of the roadbed still needs to be covered by concrete, and engineers also need to prepare spots along the highway for possible toll plazas since the stretch is being considered for North Carolina's first turnpike.

    The news is better for travelers on U.S. Highway 1/64 in Cary, which has been plagued by two years of construction delays and detours. The completion date for the widening project is now November, which has slipped a few weeks from the original completion date in October.

    "Going to the mall over near Crossroads it is kind of rough, but hopefully better things are coming when they get it done," driver Don Rayno said.

    The DOT's best news is reserved for Durham, where more than a decade of work on Interstate 85 is about to wrap up. Officials said all lanes should be reopened to traffic within the next couple of weeks.


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