Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from the original version to reflect a clarification about lane closures on I-40, which will not occur.
Westbound commuters on I-40 and I-440 should prepare for a new traffic pattern and a longer commute as early as Tuesday.
The NC Department of Transportation will reduce a section of westbound I-440 to two lanes as early as Tuesday, weather permitting. Update: Lane closures are still planned for this week, but rain has caused delays.
Although actual lane closures will only occur on I-440, the DOT will implement a new traffic pattern on I-40 to optimize traffic flow. DOT officials said I-40 drivers can expect delays.
The lane closures are to accommodate Phase 1 of the Fortify Project. The Fortify Project, previously known more accurately as “Crawleigh,” is the removal and replacement of an 11.5 mile stretch of I-40/I-440. The NC Department of Transportation will begin the project with the replacement of I-440 between the I-40/440/U.S. 64 split and just north of the U.S. 64/264 Knightdale Bypass.
The closures are expected to have a significant impact on travel, and the state Department of Transportation said it strongly encourages commuters to carpool, use public transportation or give themselves extra time coming to and from work. They are also encouraging employers to allow flexible options for their employees, such as working from home or condensed work week schedules.
Commuter Alper Lökçü plans avoid Fortify by taking a different route.
“Shifting work hours to avoid the peak traffic is not always possible,” Lökçü said. “So I think I would most likely leave I-40 at exit 306 for 70 West/401 North to get back on I-40 at exit 298.”
The lane closures were expected to begin last week, but the NC Department of Transportation and their contractors needed more time for a plan to optimize traffic flow through the duration of this project.
Triangle Transit and Capital Area Transit will also offer commuters more options by expanding services during the Fortify Project. Daily express routes to downtown Raleigh will be added from Cleveland Crossing in Johnston County and Wendell-Zebulon. Designated park-and-ride lots will be designated along with additional vanpool service from Johnston County. Busses will also be able ride on the shoulder along designated routes to make for a quicker commute.
The next leg of the project will be rebuilding I-40 between the split and the I-40/U.S. 1/64 interchange near Cary. This is expected to start in late 2014 or early 2015. The expected completion date for the Fortify Project is fall 2016.