RALEIGH – Work continued on the Fortify project Friday night with crews shifting traffic and closing lanes on I-440 West in southeast Raleigh. This was the first in series of shifts and closures to establish the new traffic pattern in east and westbound lanes, which will remain in place until the work on I-440 is complete. Each section that is closed the night before will remain closed the next day.
Commuters will experience the new pattern for the first time on Monday, Dec. 16, when lane closures will remain in place during the morning and afternoon drive time.
New commuting options are also available Monday to help relieve traffic congestion. As part of the Fortify project the N.C. Department of Transportation invested $12 million and partnered with Go Triangle, Triangle Transit and Capital Area Transit to provide options that include express bus service from Johnston County and additional service from Eastern Wake County, as well as other commuter options that will begin next year. Commuters can try the new Johnston County express service through January for free.
FORTIFY PROJECT DETAILS
Starting at 11 p.m. Friday, crews put in lane striping to merge the two lanes of the I-40 West ramp onto I-440 West into a single lane on the right side of the ramp. This will direct those motorists into a merge into the two travel lanes coming from the I-40 East ramp to I-440 West, and then on through the construction zone.
The traffic shift on I-440 West put travelers into the outside lane and the shoulder, which was strengthened to handle daily traffic. Barrels will be in place to block off the two inside lanes and the median.
With work postponed by rainy then cold weather over the weekend, crews plan to resume work Tuesday night. They plan to extend the traffic shift and closures to about the Poole Road exit of I-440 West, and complete the westbound work by reaching the U.S. 64/264 exit the next night. That will have traffic in a two-lane pattern over a three-mile stretch.
While the I-440 West work is underway, crews on Monday at 9 p.m. will continue prepping I-440 East for the same traffic shift. The outside lane in the project area will be closed as additional paving work is needed during the week to get the shoulder area ready for traffic.Work on the I-440 lanes will be suspended over the holiday break, and will resume the first week of January, when the eastbound traffic shift and lane closures will start.
Once the closures are in place, concrete Jersey barriers will replace the orange plastic traffic control barrels that initially are being used. Then crews can start the removal of the roadway surface and substructure.
Shifting I-440 traffic is not the only work going on for the Fortify project. On Monday, crews will begin assembling a temporary asphalt plant being placed in the median of the I-40/440 split.
NEW COMMUTER OPTION DETAILS
Starting Monday, daily express bus service begins between downtown Raleigh and Cleveland Crossing in Johnston County. The new route will be called the Johnston County Express, or JCX, and will follow Interstate 40 to U.S. 70 into downtown Raleigh. As an added incentive to get commuters to try out this new service, the JCX will be free for all riders from the launch of service on Dec. 16 through the month of January. More information on the JCX is available on Triangle Transit’s website.
Plans are also in the works to establish a park-and-ride lot where commuters can park their cars when either catching the JCX or meeting with carpoolers and vanpoolers to share a ride. The proposed lot will be located at the Wal-Mart at the Cleveland Crossings Shopping Center, located at I-40 and N.C. 42. To learn more about finding a carpool or vanpool, visit www.sharetheridenc.org.
Bus On Shoulder System (BOSS) will also be activated on Monday in both directions on I-40 between Raleigh and N.C. 42 (Exit 312). BOSS enables trained bus drivers on designated bus routes to travel in the shoulder of the interstate as long as traffic in travel lanes is moving at speeds lower than 35 miles per hour.
In addition to these new services, the existing Zebulon-Wendell-Raleigh Express (ZWX) route is expanding to include mid-day runs. Additional vanpool services will also be offered for commuters looking to share a ride. For more information on these new services, visit www.fortifync.com and click on “Transit Options.”
Phase Two will begin in the fall of 2014. In addition to the options being rolled out in phase one, this phase will include new routes from Cary through west Raleigh and N.C. State University into downtown Raleigh, as well as a route from Fuquay-Varina into Raleigh. Also as part of Phase Two, a midday frequency will begin on the existing Garner-Downtown Raleigh Route (Route 102). This would create hourly service along the route from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The Fortify project is the removal and replacement of an 11.5-mile stretch of I-40 and I-440. The initial phase focuses on replacing the section of I-440 between the I-40/440/U.S. 64 split and just north of the U.S. 64/264 Knightdale Bypass. Work will then switch to rebuilding I-40 between the split and the I-40/U.S. 1/64 interchange near Cary. That is expected to start in late 2014 or early 2015, with the entire project expected to wrap up Fall 2016.
Because of the expected traffic impact of the project, NCDOT has a Fortify website that provides comprehensive information, including alternate transit options, project maps and links to live traffic cameras. Employers can also access online resources to help them develop and implement a flexible work program. The site includes links to Twitter, Facebook and other social media to stay engaged with NCDOT and other commuters.
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