For real, this time. After an 11th-hour postponement last week, the state Department of Transportation said that late Friday night, Raleigh drivers would start feeling a 3-year-long squeeze as lanes on the southern Beltline are closed for an extensive repair job.
Commuters will feel the first effects of the Beltline jam when they head out to work Monday morning.
Starting about 11 p.m. Friday, construction crews were to begin closing the two inside lanes of Interstate 440 West (the Outer Beltline) for about a mile, starting at the I-40 split. Drivers will be moved into the outside lane and the freeway shoulder, which has been repaved to carry regular traffic during the $130 million Beltline reconstruction project.
The lanes could not be closed until workers first laid down new stripes on the pavement to guide drivers into the new traffic pattern. Recent nights were either too cold or too wet for this work.
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Similar work will continue on subsequent nights until the two inside lanes on I-440 West are closed all the way from I-40 to U.S. 64/264, about 3 miles.
The crews will not start closing the two inside lanes on the same section of I-440 East, from U.S. 64/264 back to I-40, until after the holidays.
This stretch of I-440, at the southeast corner of Raleigh’s Beltline, 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.
The lane closings were delayed last week while engineers considered a last-minute change in their traffic plan for the work zone, a change they said should reduce slowdowns for drivers entering this part of I-440 from I-40.