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Work on I-440 will start soon and take four years. Here’s what’s planned.

Take a ride and see why I-440 needs widening

The NCDOT's road project will widen I-440 from just south of Walnut Street in Cary to north of Wade Avenue in Raleigh. It will include the replacement of the existing pavement and bridges along this segment, as well as upgraded interchanges.
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The NCDOT's road project will widen I-440 from just south of Walnut Street in Cary to north of Wade Avenue in Raleigh. It will include the replacement of the existing pavement and bridges along this segment, as well as upgraded interchanges.

The long job of widening the last four-lane stretch of the Raleigh Beltline will begin early next year after the N.C. Department of Transportation awarded a contract to design and build the highway to a Connecticut company.

A team led by The Lane Construction Corp. was chosen from among four that bid on the project to widen Interstate 440 between Wade Avenue and Interstate 40 near Cary from four lanes to six, replace aging bridges and reconfigure several interchanges.

At the same time, the company will build an underpass that will carry Blue Ridge Road under Hillsborough Street, the N.C. Railroad Tracks and Beryl Road near the N.C. State Fairgrounds. The underpass will eliminate what the NCDOT describes as the the state’s most complex intersection.

Lane’s bid for final designs and construction was $346.2 million.

Beltline widening hearing
From left, Beth Weaver, Jennifer Cates and John Cates look over a map of N.C. Department of Transportation plans to widen the Beltline in West Raleigh during a NCDOT open house in August 2017. NCDOT has awarded a contract and construction will begin early next year. Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

The 4-mile stretch of the Beltline from Wade Avenue to Cary dates back to 1960, when there was far less traffic and highway design standards tolerated shorter entrance and exit ramps and the crisscrossing of entering and exiting traffic. At the same time it adds a lane in each direction, NCDOT wants to redesign the major interchanges at Wade, Hillsborough and Western Boulevard.

NCDOT’s initial designs called for taking 19 acres from the N.C. State University Club and at least 13.5 acres from Meredith College across the highway. After protests from people at both institutions, NCDOT’s engineers came back with revised designs that required less land. Lane Construction will be encouraged to reduce the road’s footprint further if possible.

The construction work is expected to take more than four years, ending in August 2023. NCDOT says most of the work will be done between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. and that no lanes will be closed during commute times. The department says the contractor will try to avoid interfering with big events at PNC Arena, Carter-Finley Stadium and the State Fairgrounds.

But with such a large work zone in a busy part of town, traffic will inevitably move slower. When construction starts, NCDOT urges drivers to plan ahead and to visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter for real-time travel information.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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