I-40 W lane reductions to begin Thursday night in Fortify zone

Posted August 13, 2015 1:25 p.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2015 6:30 p.m. EDT

— With nice weather in the forecast for the next several days, crews working on Raleigh's Fortify project will begin introducing more lane reductions on Interstate 40 West late Thursday night.

By the Friday morning commute, I-40 West could go from five lanes to four between the I-40/440 split and Hammond Road, North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said.

In the coming days, shifts will continue west, with the highway going from four lanes to three between Hammond and Lake Wheeler roads. All work will happen at night, but lane shifts and reductions will be in place 24 hours a day.

"This is when the slowdowns we've been talking about for two years are going to be felt," DOT spokesman Steve Abbott said.

Abbott said engineers expect the additional lane closures to add up to 30 minutes of travel time through the work zone.

Driver Meredith McLean says she's noticed a change in recent weeks.

"It adds about 20 minutes with just one lane closed, and I hear they are going to be closing more lanes," she said.

Beachgoers looking to soak up the final rays of summer sun could also notice backups, especially during Labor Day weekend.

Abbott says vacationers should try to stagger leaving and returning to the Triangle to avoid significant delays.

"Try to stagger it. If you can leave in the morning, if you can leave the next morning," he said. "Take an extra night of vacation and come back the next morning. That would help, too."

McLean said she just returned from the beach.

"You don't want to sit in traffic for half of your vacation, and that's what would end up happening," she said.

Abbott says drivers should consider using I-440 as an alternate route when I-40 is backed up. He also said drivers can expect even more congestion once summer ends and traditional-calendar schools begin.