Road Worrier

Rough roads are slated for smoothing

Staff WriterAugust 18, 2009 

A wider Interstate 40 is coming to West Raleigh? Jolly good. They're building an 18.8-mile turnpike in western Wake County? That's a big deal, too.

But if you want to talk about something that will smooth a rough ride for nearly 60,000 cars a day, let's savor the news in this quiet announcement from the state Department of Transportation:

They're finally going to repave Wade and Glenwood avenues in Raleigh.

DOT will open bids today for a contract to fix 2.7 miles of Glenwood, starting inside the Beltline at Woman's Club Drive and winding uphill past Oberlin Road and Five Points to Wade Avenue.

In September, the bids will be opened for repaving 2.5 miles of Wade, from Faircloth Street inside the Beltline past Oberlin and Glenwood to Capital Boulevard.

Work starts on both jobs this fall, to finish by June. It will be daytime work, but all lanes will remain open during rush hour, between 6 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m.

DOT spends money each year -- less money, lately -- to resurface urban streets and rural secondary roads that are part of the state-maintained road system. Other repaving bids to be opened today will cover 36 miles of roads in Wake County and 18 miles in Durham County (including three miles of Roxboro Street, north of Club Boulevard).

Repaving usually isn't big news. But Wade and Glenwood are important.

Each road carries almost 30,000 cars every day between the Beltline and downtown Raleigh. Both roads have deteriorated badly in the past couple of years.

In some of the worst sections of Wade near Oberlin, the potholes have merged into an unbroken stretch of all-broken asphalt. It looks like a gravel road.

"It's just bumpity, bumpity, bumpity," said Bill Hale, 62, who commutes downtown from West Raleigh. "I straddle all those potholes in light traffic, because I don't want to have to replace my shocks or the front end. In heavy traffic, if you're in the right lane, you just have to grin and bear it."

Most of the damage on Wade will be fixed with fresh asphalt, as DOT has done recently on Wade Extension from the Beltline to I-40.

Glenwood has deeper problems. It is mostly asphalt pavement on top of concrete slabs. The concrete cracks and buckles, and the asphalt heaves up in ridges that run across the lane. There are potholes on top of that.

"It makes your car feel like a rattletrap," said Connie Aull, 48, who recently moved from West Raleigh to Fuquay-Varina. "There's no way you can keep your front end aligned. They occasionally come in and fill in the potholes, after it's too late."

Michael J. Kneis, DOT project manager for Wake and six neighboring counties, said the Glenwood job will involve digging out a few inches of asphalt to repair or replace the broken concrete underneath.

"It's more than just a maintenance resurfacing, because we are going back down to the concrete and resealing those joints" between the slabs, Kneis said.

The Wade Avenue project will be financed with federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The money became available after early stimulus project contract bids came in well below DOT cost estimates, Kneis said. By using stimulus money for Wade, DOT can spread its thin repaving budget to cover other secondary roads.

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