Repairs on Botched Paving Job to Snarl I-40 Traffic

Posted March 20, 2007 4:57 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2007 10:50 a.m. EDT

— Motorists on Interstate 40 are in for another bumpy ride in the coming months as highway crews work to repair more than 10 miles of flawed pavement.

The stretch of I-40 between the Durham Freeway and U.S. Highway 15/501 was widened three years ago, with new asphalt laid over both the existing and new lanes. But expansion joints were improperly placed in the new pavement during the two-year, $50 million project, which caused the interstate to begin crumbling shortly thereafter.

The state Department of Transportation and highway contractors argued for months over who was to blame before deciding to split the $21 million cost to repair the pavement. Three DOT engineers were reprimanded for their involvement in the project.

The road repairs will begin April 10, and lane closures will affect night and weekend traffic.

Area officials are worried that the I-40 repairs could delay other road projects across the Triangle, such as widening Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh and replacing its old bridge over the Neuse River.

"That's just unbearable for the citizens in this region," said Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan, who heads the county's traffic planning organization. "We certainly do not look forward to people being stuck in traffic again, as well as losing the money. So, we're getting hit twice on this issue and nobody's happy with it."

Several lawmakers from Wake County have filed Senate Bill 783 to spread the I-40 repair costs statewide, instead of diverting money from the Triangle's highway funding district.

"(Paying) $21 million is a huge hit, and there's no sense in our citizens paying the penalty for that," said state Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.