Unless stormy weather spoils their plans again, NCDOT engineers will squeeze traffic on westbound I-540 in northeast Raleigh into one lane this weekend so a contractor can rip out and replace two lanes of bad concrete.
The traffic squeeze affects traffic from US 64 Business (New Bern Road) to Buffalo Road, starting at 7 p.m. tonight (Friday) and ending by 6 a.m. Monday. Road crews will replace the entire 12-inch-deep concrete slab for a 500-foot distance in the center and outer lanes.
Vecellio & Grogan is the contractor responsible for the 9-mile 540 Outer Loop arc from U.S. 1 in North Raleigh to U.S. 64 in Knightdale, which opened in January 2007. Even though we've been driving it for a year and a half, DOT has not yet given the contractor its final check and thank-you handshake. Not until the bad concrete is made good.
Cadmus Capehart, the DOT engineer responsible for the project, says some of the concrete pavement was discovered to be honeycombed with air gaps -- apparently caused when the mix of cement, rocks and water did not combine smoothly and uniformly before it was poured onto the roadbed.
The problem covers parts of two lanes covering a total distance of about 2200 feet, mostly in the outer westbound lanes but some in the inner eastbound lanes.This is the second weekend of work, and they'll need about two more to finish the job.
It's a lot of concrete, but nothing as extensive as DOT's botched concrete paving job on I-40 in Durham County in 2003, which covered two lanes in each direction for 10 miles. That screwup cost taxpayers $21.7 million and plenty of headaches in 2006 and 2007.
The I-540 fix will inconvenience drivers for a few weekends, but the money will come from the contractor's pocket.