It’s going to take a little bit longer than planned to finish Fortify, the multiyear effort to rebuild the Beltline across the south side of Raleigh.
The N.C. Department of Transportation had expected to close the ramp from Gorman Street onto eastbound Interstate 40 for a week starting Thursday night so the ramp could be ripped up and repaved. It’s the last exit or entrance ramp to be rebuilt as part of the project.
But DOT has decided to postpone the ramp closure until at least early January. With forecasters calling for rain next week, it appeared likely contractors would not be able to finish the work before Dec. 22, when NCDOT suspends construction that requires closures wherever possible to ease holiday traffic, said department spokesman Steve Abbott.
Meanwhile, I-40 across the south side of Raleigh has returned to full capacity, with the same number of lanes open as before the project began nearly five years ago. An additional westbound lane, called a connector, between Lake Wheeler Road and Gorman Street has also opened. More connector lanes remain behind barrels and concrete barriers eastbound between Gorman and Lake Wheeler and on both sides of the highway between Gorman and U.S. 1/I-440. They’re not expected to open until after the first of the year, Abbott said.
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Fortify is the state’s name for the years-long effort to replace 11.5 miles of pavement on the southern Beltline that was crumbling because of a chemical reaction in the road’s concrete foundation. The $183 million project began in late 2013 when crews rebuilt a 3.5-mile section of I-440 from the I-40/I-440 split to just north of the Knightdale Bypass.
The current work on I-40 across the south side of Raleigh started in 2015. NCDOT had expected to have all the ramps rebuilt and all the lanes opened by the end of 2017.