RALEIGH — A chilly night forecast is forcing the state Department of Transportation to postpone, once again, the planned start of daytime lane closings that will squeeze rush-hour traffic on Raleigh’s southern Beltline for the next three years.
The plan is to close the two inside lanes of Interstate 440 for three miles in both directions along the southeast corner of the Beltline, from the I-40 split to the U.S. 64 / 264 exit. Drivers will be pushed into the outside lane and the freeway shoulder, which has been repaved to serve as a traffic lane during the three-year project to rebuild 11.5 miles of the Beltline.
But before that can happen, nighttime work crews need to put some fresh new lane stripes on the pavement, so drivers will know where to go. Recent wet weather prevented that work earlier in the week. Now the forecast is for dry nights, but cold temperatures – a bit too cold for the striping work.
Dennis Jernigan, a DOT construction engineer, said Wednesday he expected the work would not be possible for Wednesday and Thursday nights. That means it will be Saturday morning, at the earliest, before drivers find themselves traveling on the shoulder.
This stretch of I-440 will be limited to two lanes each way for the next year while workers dig out the old concrete and replace it with new pavement. Sometime next spring or early summer, traffic will shift from the outside lanes to the inside. In late 2014, a similar repair job will start on 8 miles of the I-40 portion of the Beltline across South Raleigh, with lanes closed for another two years until completion in late 2016.