County sections of I-40 get makeover

Sections of Interstate 40 in Catawba County will be resurfaced throughout the next year, and there will be closures on the highway during the project.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently awarded $10.4 million for a resurfacing project in Catawba and Iredell counties that is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1, 2012. NCDOT officials said construction could start as early as Sept. 26.

Most resurfacing will be completed at night, but there will be closures of sections of I-40 from Exit 132 (N.C. 16 Business) in Conover to Exit 146 (Stamey Farm Road) in Statesville.

“It will include completely replacing some concrete slabs along the interstate,” according to a release from NCDOT. “The concrete sections from mile marker 130 to the Catawba River will be smoothed, and the section from the Catawba River to Exit 146 will be resurfaced.”

The project stretches about 14.7 miles and is the second part of a larger resurfacing project on I-40 that started near the Burke County line. The first part of that resurfacing project – from the Burke County line to Conover – has already been completed, said John C. Tippett Jr., director of Planning, Community Development and Data Services at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

“The resurfacing of I-40 was recognized as a needed project several years ago because of the condition of the pavement,” Tippett said. “So, really, originally the project was to be surfacing from Burke County line to Stamey Farm road.”

Some parts of the project will involve completely replacing concrete slabs along the interstate. Other parts will involve smoothing out worn down asphalt.

“They are going to have to remove some sections of concrete and do a lot more prep and repair work,” Tippett said. “They have to do some removal, which adds to the cost and changes the scope of the project.”

Though all work will take place between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., there will be road closures and detour routes, officials said.

NCDOT communications officer Jerry Higgins said the section of I-40 was chosen as part of a prioritization process.

“It’s a prioritization process based on data and input from city officials and county officials,” Higgins said. “They go out and monitor the roads and things like that.”

The entire project will also receive a coating of Nova Chip, which combines a surface seal with a hot mix level-paving surface that results in a durable surface and is good for high-traffic areas. The ramp at Sharon School Road will also be repaved. New guardrails will also be installed along the project, according to NCDOT documents.

This is one of seven contracts totaling $34.5 million awarded by NCDOT Secretary Gene Conti for highway and bridge projects across North Carolina. NCDOT awarded the contracts to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The bids received on the projects awarded came in about 6.4 percent, or about $12 million, below NCDOT estimates.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 million spent on transportation creates 30 jobs.

North Carolina has the second-most miles of the highway system of any state in the nation, Tippett said, and during a struggling economy, the NCDOT is placing more emphasis on maintaining its roads system rather than starting new.

“The revenue hasn’t been increasing because the greatest funding source is state and federal gas tax revenue,” Tippett said. “Cars are much more efficient than they used to be, and gas has gone up so people are driving less miles. You have less revenue coming in, but the cost of repaving and fixing roads is going up. (NCDOT) is placing more emphasis on maintaining the second-largest system in the country, rather than building new roads. They are placing a big emphasis on maintaining what we have – which is resurfacing and building bridges.”

Detour routes

The detours on I-40 will include:

Between Exit 132 (N.C. 16 Business) and Exit 133 (Rock Barn Road). Eastbound traffic will take Exit 132 onto N.C. 16 Business and turn left onto Rock Barn Road back onto I-40. Westbound traffic will reverse the directions.

Between Exit 133 (Rock Barn Road) and Exit 135 (Oxford Street). Eastbound traffic will take Exit 133 onto Rock Barn Road, turn left onto U.S. 70 and turn left onto Oxford Street back onto I-40. Westbound traffic will reverse the directions.

Between Exit 135 (Oxford Street) and Exit 138 (N.C. 10). Eastbound traffic will take Exit 135 onto Oxford Street, turn left onto U.S. 70 and turn left onto N.C. 10 back onto I-40. Westbound traffic will reverse the directions.