RALEIGH -Monday night's rain stopped contractor crews from completing prep work needed for the I-440 East traffic shift for the Fortify Project that was scheduled for Tuesday night. That will postpone the shift until later in the week, possibly Thursday night. Three weeks ago, motorists on the I-440 West section of the project were shifted from the two outside lanes of the interstate to the newly rebuilt two inside lanes. The same shift is planned for I-440 East between the U.S. 64/264 Knightdale Bypass and I-40. The move will allow crews to begin rebuilding the outside lanes of I-440 East.
Drivers familiar with this part of the Fortify work zone will notice it means a shift farther to the left than they currently make.Except for the exit ramps, the outside lanes and shoulder will be closed to through traffic during construction.
Because the shoulders will be closed, drivers experiencing car trouble should make every effort to get to the next exit, where there is space to pull over and safely get out of the vehicle. If a vehicle breaks down in a travel lane and cannot be moved, the driver should stay inside the vehicle, turn on the flashers, and if a cell phone is available, call 911. Getting out of the car could mean stepping into the travel lane and possibly into the path of other vehicles.
Law enforcement, the N.C. Department of Transportation's Incident Management Assistance Patrols, the contracted towing company and contractor employees are trained to look for distressed motorists and quickly come to their aid. In addition, NCDOT employees who monitor the traffic cameras along the project site will alert law enforcement and other first responders as soon as they spot an issue.
As with many traffic pattern changes, this shift will take some time for drivers to get used to and NCDOT asks motorists to have patience as they learn the new pattern. The department also urges drivers to slow down, use caution and obey the speed limit of 55 mph through the work zone.
The entire I-440 rebuild in this initial phase of the Fortify project is anticipated to be complete later this year. Then, work on the larger I-40 section of the project will gear up. Bridge widening and shoulder preparation work along I-40 has been under way for several months in anticipation of that move.
The Fortify project includes the removal and replacement of pavement on 11.5 miles of interstate. That covers I-40 between the I-440/U.S. 1 interchange in Cary and the I-440 split in southwest Raleigh, and I-440 between the split and U.S. 64/264.
A chemical reaction in the 40-year-old substructure of the roadway is causing it to crumble, and in turn, is damaging the road. That has required constant repairs, and led to concerns of ongoing major travel disruptions along one of the state's busiest stretches of highway.
The initial phase is focused on the I-440 section. During the I-40 phase, traffic in both directions will be in a three-lane pattern. That is expected to start late this year or in early 2015, with traffic expected to be in its final pattern in the fall of 2016.
Because of the expected traffic impact of the project, NCDOT has partnered with Go Triangle, Triangle Transit and Capital Area Transit to promote options to help motorists avoid traveling through the work zones at peak travel times