Traffic

Contractor fined after southbound Capital Boulevard stayed closed through AM commute

A contractor failed to reopen the southbound lanes of Capital Boulevard near downtown on time Monday morning and will be fined $30,000 by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Zachry Construction is being docked $2,500 for every 15 minutes that the road was not open past 6 a.m., said NCDOT spokesman Marty Homan. The southbound lanes of Capital reopened between Johnson and Lane streets at 9 a.m., Homan said.

The company closed southbound Capital on Friday night to install sewer lines under the roadway. Southbound traffic was detoured onto Johnson Street just beyond the Peace Street overpass, then onto Harrington Street into downtown.

The detour remained in place through rush hour Monday, funneling three lanes of Capital Boulevard traffic onto single-lane Harrington Street.

Even with the extra time, the sewer work wasn’t completed, Homan said, and southbound Capital will be closed again from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday so it can be finished. The contractor did not cite a reason for being late, he said.

“It wasn’t anything specific,” Homan. “They just didn’t finish.”

It’s at least the second time Zachry has been fined by NCDOT for not finishing some weekend work before the Monday morning commute. In July 2018, southbound Capital was closed at Wade Avenue until 1 p.m., seven hours past the expected opening time, creating a big backup of people coming downtown to work.

Several factors were cited in that delay, including mechanical problems with an asphalt machine, weather and a scheduling conflict with one of the contractors. In that case, NCDOT withheld $70,000 from a payment to Zachry, Homan said.

Zachry, a Texas-based company with an office in Morrisville, is the general contractor on a $36.9 million project to overhaul a one-mile stretch of Capital north of downtown Raleigh. It entails building new bridges at Wade Avenue and Peace Street as well as realigning Capital, adding sidewalks and a 10-foot grassy median and reconfiguring the interchange at Peace.

Over the weekend, two lanes of northbound Capital were also closed between Lane Street and Wade Avenue so workers could build the curb and gutters along the median and do some repaving work. Those lanes reopened Sunday night.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.
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