Commuters’ dreams of a smooth, unimpeded cruise on Raleigh’s southern Beltine will likely be reality before the end of the year.
The final phase of Fortify, the rebuilding of 8.5 miles of Interstate 40 between U.S. 1 and the I-40/440 split near Garner, is expected to be mostly complete in August, state Department of Transportation officials announced Friday.
“We are finally at a point where we will start shifting traffic into its final pattern through portions of the project,” said David Conner, assistant resident engineer for the project.
Lane shifting will begin Monday night on westbound I-40 from Gorman Street and will move backward to the east side of the I-40/I-440 split. The westbound shifts should be completed by early July, Conner said.
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Meanwhile, crews will continue working on the eastbound lanes in preparation for shifting that side of the roadway.
“This work will take place overnight, when traffic is at its minimum,” Conner said. “Once this is done, it will move traffic off of the median barrier ... opening up additional lanes that have been closed for an extended period of time.”
Fortify will conclude with a final layer of pavement that will be phased in as lanes on both sides of the interstate are moved into their final positions.
Work on the stretch from Gorman Street to U.S. 1, where shifting will take place but no additional lanes will open, will wrap up this fall.
Fortify began in 2013 with the 3.5-mile span of I-440 from the split near Garner north to the Knightdale Bypass. The latest work began in 2015.
Replacing the 30-year-old concrete pavement with improved asphalt for the entire 12 miles will cost an estimated $183 million. Several factors have pushed the project beyond its starting budget of $130 million.
“As we have gone through and start rebuilding something, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get into,” Conner said. “The dirt, for lack of a better term, under the roadway is saturated. ... We’ve had some drainage issues.”
Conner said DOT officials field plenty of questions about bumps at bridge approaches and in areas where crews have already paved one layer of asphalt.
“Obviously, we’re spending all this money rebuilding the road, and what you think is the final surface still rides rough so people are questioning that,” he said. “I realize it looks like we’ve paved and we’re moving on, but once everything is done we’re going to come back and put down a final layer that will take care of all these issues.”
Ramp work begins Sunday
Officials also plan to close eastbound I-40 exits at Rock Quarry Road to rebuild the exit ramp and entry loop.
The ramps will close at midnight Sunday and are expected to reopen by 5 a.m. on June 15.
Motorists will be sent on detours including Jones Sausage and Poole roads and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.