S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson received a $49 million contract from NCDOT today to widen a 6-mile stretch of I-40 in West Raleigh, a long-sought project that will ease congestion in the Triangle's worst commuter bottleneck.
I-40 will grow from two to three lanes each way between Wade Avenue and the US 1/64 interchange. The added interstate lane also will reduce confusion at the chaotic split between Wade and eastbound I-40.
Plans call for extra wide shoulders and bridges that will make it easier in future years to add a fourth lane in each direction.
After the work is finished in mid-2011, thousands of I-40 commuters will have a quicker round trip each day.
“There are about 160,000 drivers using that facility each day, and each of them get delayed about 20 minutes a day because of the congestion there,” said Ed Johnson, director of CAMPO, the Raleigh area transportation planning agency.
That adds up to 53,000 hours wasted in traffic on that part of I-40.
“If you attach $10 an hour to the cost of a person's time, that's a half-million dollars a day this chokepoint is costing the region now in terms of time that could be better spent elsewhere,” Johnson said.
Wooten also will have the job of updating signs around Raleigh's Beltline. The old Inner/Outer Beltline designations will disappear, replaced by new markers dividing the Beltline between east/west I-40 and east/west I-440.