Raleigh - Motorists who use southbound Durham Freeway (N.C. 147) will be dealing with a long-term traffic shift, starting the night of Friday, Feb. 12, weather permitting. That is when the contractor for the East End Connector project plans to move southbound traffic to new lanes that have been built down the median of the highway between south of Briggs Avenue (Exit 10) and just north of Ellis Road (Exit 8). The highway will continue to have two southbound lanes, just in the different location.
The shift is expected to be in place until about mid-June. It will allow the contractor to safely remove, regrade and stabilize the current southbound section in that area to prepare it for new concrete pavement. Other work will include constructing part of a new bridge on the southbound side of the road and widening a couple of the existing bridges.
Southbound motorists need to pay attention to the new pattern and use extra caution while traveling through the work zone as the new traffic alignment will include having barrier rails on both sides of the roadway in some sections.
Once work on the southbound side wraps up and traffic returns to its original pattern, the northbound lanes will be shifted into the median lanes for about another four months for similar work on that side.
The shift location is where a new interchange for the Connector is being built for the new 3.9-mile interstate-standard road that will link the Freeway and U.S. 70. It will also upgrade U.S. 70 to a freeway between Pleasant Drive and N.C. 98. Once open it is expected to add the I-885 route designation.
Although this is the only major shift planned for the $142 million dollar for the time being, drivers need to continue to be alert to possible day or night lane closures along highways linked to the project to support construction activities. Lane closures along the Durham Freeway are allowed between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, and 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. Similar closures are permitted on U.S. 70 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. Friday evenings, and 8 p.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday nights. Lane closures on other roads within the work area can happen anytime except 6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
The East End Connector, under way since April 2015, will provide a direct freeway connection between the Durham Freeway and north of the U.S. 70/N.C. 98 intersection, completing a link between I-85 and I-40, the Triangle Expressway and U.S. 1 in southern Wake County. It is expected to promote economic development in areas along the I-85 corridor toward Virginia by improving access for people and goods between Durham and counties north of the city to major employment and retail centers, including Research Triangle Park, Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Wake County.
Another benefit will be alleviating congestion on the Durham Freeway through downtown Durham. It will also help divert traffic off local roads such as U.S. 15/501, which is often used as a connection between I-85 and I-40, as well as Roxboro, Mangum, Gregson and Duke streets in Durham
The Connector is expected to be open in 2019.