Raleigh -Contractor crews early Friday put the final concrete barriers down along I-440 East near the I-40/440 split in southeast Raleigh, setting traffic into its long-term two-lane pattern in the Fortify work zone. Traffic on the I-440 West side of the project has been in a two-lane pattern for several weeks, but cold and/or wet weather held up the lane striping needed for the shift on the eastbound side for the past few weeks.
Traffic along I-440 will now remain in its current pattern, using the outside lane and reinforced shoulder for travel on each side until about late May, while the inside two lanes on both sides and the median are rebuilt. Once the new lanes are ready, traffic will shift onto those inside lanes, and the outside lanes and shoulders will be rebuilt through the summer and fall.
The placement of the concrete barriers on I-440 East will enable crews to safely begin the removal of the existing roadway and median on that side, work that has already been underway along I-440 West. Workers will be sawcutting sections of the I-440 roadway and median barrier over the next several days to make them easier to remove. Work on that side of the interstate will also include the installation of a new storm drain system under the highway, and rebuilding bridges over Sunnybrook Road and Crabtree Creek.
Crews have been breaking up the existing pavement on sections of I-440 West. This is done by removing the asphalt and then using a crusher machine to turn the concrete pavement rubble into a gravel product that is recycled into the new roadway.
Work also continues on the I-40 section of Fortify. Because the contractor is required to keep three lanes open in each direction during that phase of the project, bridges in the area have to be widened to accommodate the transformation of the highway shoulders into travel lanes. Several weeks of prep work are underway for the bridges over Garner Road, Hadely Drive and State Street.
That work includes some slight traffic shifts on those roads to accommodate the construction, as well as the installation of temporary barrier walls to provide protection for workers and the traveling public. That means some shoulder closures will be in place by the bridges, and there will be some outside lane closures during the work, but only during overnight hours to minimize any traffic impact.
Prep work for I-40 will also extend to the other side of the project area, with the milling of some rumble strips along the shoulders between U.S. 1 and Lake Wheeler Road overnight in the coming weeks. This work also requires some brief lane closures during the overnight hours for the safety of the workers.
Motorists going through work zones along I-440 and I-40 are reminded to slow down to the reduced speed limit in that area, and use extra caution for their safety, as well as for their passengers, other motorists and construction crews. A conviction for speeding in a work zone can cost a motorist an additional $250 above the original speeding fine and court costs.
The Fortify project is the removal and replacement of an 11.5-mile stretch of I-40 and I-440 because of the crumbling of the substructure of the highways. The initial phase replaces the I-440 roadway between the I-40/440/U.S. 64 split and just north of the U.S. 64/264 Knightdale Bypass. That will allow I-440 to be used as an alternate route when work switches to rebuilding I-40 between the split and the I-40/U.S. 1/64 interchange near Cary in late 2014 or early 2015. The entire project is expected to wrap up