Work Set for I-40 Thursday Night

NCDOT says it expects weather to allow crews to repave.

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I-40 Project's First Weekend Lane-Closure Coming
DURHAM, N.C. — Lane closures for repaving on Interstate 40 in Durham County were scheduled to proceed Thursday night.

The project has been so hampered by weather that drivers cannot know in advance whether work will be going on every night, and the state announces every afternoon whether work will proceed.

Weather has interfered several times since the state Department of Transportation tried to get things rolling on April 9. The plan has been for a regular work schedule so drivers can accommodate it into their plans.

The current official work zone is from mile marker 275 to marker 277.Officials make day-by-day calls on working conditions.

Work is supposed to reach the Durham Freeway, N.C. 147, in June and then head back westbound and go on through November. The contractor is supposed to wrap up next spring after a winter layoff.

That schedule was devised before the NCDOT caught the string of bad breaks with weather. The effect of those delays is unclear.

The project involves replacing deteriorating concrete with asphalt while trying to keep road disruption to a minimum. NCDOT has to do the work because the contractor who widened the road — and snarled traffic in the process — a few years ago didn't put expansion joints in the pavement, and it began to break up shortly after the work was done.

Who was to blame for the mistakes originally has been in dispute, but the parties have agreed to divvy up the $21 million repair tab.

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.

Information about lane closures is posted on the NCDOT I-40 project Web site.

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.