DUNN – More cameras, speed sensors and other equipment designed to improve the safety of the work zone are being installed along a 16-mile stretch in Cumberland and Harnett counties where a state transportation contractor is widening Interstate 95.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is deploying the equipment to better gauge traffic conditions in real-time and more quickly inform drivers via changeable message boards of detours due to a crash or other incident. That's why NCDOT has installed alternate I-95 signs, which will direct people to use a preplanned detour route, such as U.S. 13, U.S. 301 and U.S. 421, if there are closures in the work zone causing long delays. In that event, the portable signs will alert drivers to use the I-95 alternate route to go around the closure.
“The use of this additional equipment will improve traffic conditions during the I-95 reconstruction," said Greg Burns, the department's Division 6 engineer based in Fayetteville. “This technology also will result in a safer work zone for drivers and workers."
The department's Statewide Transportation Operations Center will monitor the cameras and speed sensors and update the changeable message boards as needed within the work zone.
Another important step the department took this summer to reduce congestion and delays in the work zone was deploying various towing crews in the vicinity of the interstate to respond quickly. They are under a separate NCDOT contract to arrive to the scene within 20 minutes of a wrecked, abandoned or disabled vehicle in the work zone.
One reason for having the towers on standby is construction is restricting access by use of concrete barriers to the paved shoulder, where a broken-down vehicle would normally be parked. The work zone has marked emergency pull-off areas.
The towing companies are stationed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit ncdot.gov/towing to learn more.
$404 million contract
The widening project began in November 2019 with the closure and demolition of the Long Branch Road bridge (Exit 71) over I-95 in Harnett County.
Last year, the NCDOT awarded a $404 million design-build contract to widen the interstate from roughly Exit 55 to Exit 71. The interstate will be widened to a total of eight lanes and nearly every bridge and overpass will be rebuilt to modern design standards along the route.
The 16-mile section is expected to be completed by 2024.
For more information about this project and plans to widen the interstate between exits 71 and 81, visit this NCDOT page.