Raleigh -The North Carolina Department of Transportation is urging drivers traveling through the 8.5-mile Fortify work zone in Raleigh to use extra caution as heavy rain fall in the area over the next few days.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, driving in rainy, windy conditions carries additional risks because a driver's perception of the road ahead and the vehicle's ability to grip the road are reduced, making it more difficult to maneuver.
In a 10-year study, 24 percent of all traffic deaths were due to driving in adverse weather conditions -primarily wet pavement.
Couple that with narrow lanes, barrier walls and heavy traffic found in a work zone, the risk for a crash multiplies.
"Slow down, take your time and allow extra time to get where you're going," Fortify project inspector Jack Pedro said Friday. "Even though we have erosion control and drainage designed to take care of any water runoff, there's still the risk for slippery conditions."
NCDOT.gov offers numerous safety tips for drivers in both wet weather and construction zones. Staying alert, obeying posted speed limits and avoiding distractions, such as smartphone and social media usage, are a few of them.
Meanwhile, rain has delayed some of the remaining lane shifts on I-40 West until at least next week. Contractors must wait for drier weather to complete lane striping.
By the end of next week, drivers on I-40 West between the Garner Road bridge and the South Saunders Street exit can expect to be in their long-term three-lane traffic pattern.
Additional shifts and the reduction to three lanes of the remaining four-lane section of I-40 West between Rock Quarry Road and the I-40/440 split will be put into place in the next few weeks.
While rain held up the lane shift work, crews were able to continue some work in the closed-off center lanes on both sides of I-40. Most of that work, however, will be on hold through at least the weekend as enough rain has now fallen to turn the construction area into mud, making it difficult to safely operate construction vehicles.
The hold-up is expected to be brief. Crews hope to return to milling and excavating work as early as Sunday night.