First Big Headache Looms With I-40 Weekend Work

Posted May 3, 2007 11:12 p.m. EDT

— Until now, repaving of the botched I-40 widening job in Durham County has slowed traffic only at night as crews closed two of three lanes.

Delays have been minimal, and complaints have been few, but that is expected to change this weekend as the first of several weekend-long road-narrowings takes effect.

“We anticipate there'll be some traffic delays, yes sir, no doubt about that.” Said North Carolina department of Transportation Resident Engineer Phillip Johnson.

The lanes will be closed from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday unless rain stops the paving. The lane squeeze will be eastbound, from N.C. 54 to Fayetteville Road, near the Streets at Southpoint mall.

“I'm going to warn my daughter who works at Southpoint to find another way around. Otherwise, she'll be late for work — and I'm not going anywhere near it,” said driver Annie Warton.

When the original concrete was installed, there were heavy I-40 delays. Now that the concrete has failed due to improper installation, crews say they need the full weekend shutdown to get ahead.

“Typically, we're getting an average of 2,000 feet a night during the regular night work that we've been doing. With the weekend shutdown, we anticipate finishing close to three miles,” Johnson said.

Many students who finish exams early are expected to head home for the summer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University this weekend, which could put a extra traffic in the lane-closure area.

NCDOT will shut down lanes on I-40 in Durham County eight more weekends over the next several months.