Daytime repair work postponed on I-40

Staff WriterApril 27, 2007 

  • 1. From I-40 Exit 270, on the north side of Chapel Hill, take US 15-501 north for six miles to Exit 108-B (N.C. 147 south) in Durham.

    2. Drive N.C. 147 Durham Freeway south for 12 miles to Exit 5 (I-40) in RTP.

    3. Toward Davis Drive, I-540, RDU and Raleigh -- Stay in the left lane of N.C. 147 to take I-40 east.


    Toward N.C. 55, southern Durham and Streets at Southpoint mall -- stay in the right lane of N.C. 147 to take I-40 west.


    This 18-mile drive took 22 minutes on an average afternoon. It will be quicker at night, but probably not during daytime Saturday and Sunday.

    Be careful to stay on the U.S. 15-501 bypass. U.S. 15-501 business (South Square) splits from the two left lanes. After you pass the Garrett Road light (Chili's and a Toyota dealer are on your left), use the two right lanes in order to stay on the bypass.

    This stretch of U.S. 15-501 is slow going, with heavy traffic on weekends and five stoplights. You may spend a few minutes waiting for the lights to turn green. N.C. 147 is a freeway with no lights.

    Truckers and other through-travelers are advised instead to take Interstate 85 north from Hillsborough to Durham, then pick up N.C. 147.

    More convenient shortcuts may be available, using two- and four-lane roads such as Cornwallis Road, N.C. 54, N.C. 751, U.S. 64, Fayetteville Road and N.C. 55. It depends on exactly when and where you're traveling, where the construction work takes place, and which exits are blocked by backed-up traffic. These side roads can handle only a fraction of I-40's usual traffic load. But they may be worth a try late at night.

    Should you take the US 15-501 / N.C. 147 detour? It's 18 miles in place of a nine-mile stretch of I-40. But it should be faster than sitting through a 20-minute backup on I-40.


A highway contractor has canceled weekend plans that would have slowed daytime traffic on eastbound Interstate 40 in Durham County Saturday and Sunday -- but pavement repairs and lane closures will continue each night.

Richard J. Snow, project manager for Lane Construction Corp., said Thursday he won't schedule a round-the-clock weekend session until his crew gains more experience in removing I-40 concrete and replacing it with asphalt.

The state Department of Transportation requires Lane to work mostly at night, when I-40 traffic is lighter, to limit the inconvenience to drivers. Lane is allowed to schedule nine weekends of day-and-night work during the 13-month project.

"We're not going to do the marathon weekend this weekend," Snow said. "We want to make sure that our process is fine-tuned so we can maximize our progress with that weekend closure. With all the weather we've had so far, I don't feel we're there yet."

Cool, wet weather slowed the start of I-40 repairs. Eben Miller, a DOT engineer, said Lane's work has improved each night. About 7,000 feet of deteriorating concrete has been replaced in one lane of I-40, including about 2,000 feet Wednesday night.

The worst traffic delays so far came Sunday night, when eastbound drivers were backed up for 1.8 miles on I-40, Miller said. Westbound traffic will not be affected until June or July.

The contactor uses specialized machines to grind up the top three inches of concrete, scoop the debris into dump trucks, wash and dry the concrete pavement underneath, and put down a top layer of asphalt.

DOT ordered the $21.7 million repair job to fix errors in an I-40 widening project that are causing the pavement to crumble.

Nighttime repairs continue in the eastbound lanes of I-40 between U.S. 15-501 and N.C. 54 in Durham. Work starts and traffic is reduced to one lane at 8 p.m. -- with all lanes to reopen by 6 a.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. on weekends.

Lane now plans its first 58-hour weekend work session next weekend, from 8 p.m. Friday, May 4, to 6 a.m. Monday, May 7.

Repair updates and traffic information are available online at or on DOT's 511 telephone information line.

Staff writer Bruce Siceloff can be reached at 829-4527 or

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