I-40 project delayed

Interstate 40 motorists waiting for a smoother drive through Catawba County will have to wait a few months longer.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation decided to delay paving on a stretch of I-40 from mile markers 146 to 130 after pavement deterioration led the department to rethink the current paving process.

Anne Schley, of the NCDOT's Hickory Office, said engineers discovered the roadway deteriorated enough that it was necessary to change the pavement structure. The process originally included an overlay of NovaChip, which is a process designed for pavement maintenance.

"It was determined that the original design was not sufficient to (pave the road), and we couldn't add funds to the existing project," Schley said.

She said the department discovered more remedial work needed to be done, and NovaChip was no longer sufficient to complete the project.

The paving project was contracted for Maymead Incorporated, and the bid with Maymead doesn't include the change in pavement structure. The NCDOT couldn't financially make that change within the bounds of Maymead's contract.

"This wasn't any problem with the contractor in any way," Schley said.

NCDOT Division engineer Mike Holder said the delay is "in the best interest" of the project. Holder said federal and state funds are used to pay for road construction, and the department is in the process of gathering funds for the project from mile markers 146 to 130.

The NCDOT will hear bids for the project in the spring, and the paving is expected to take place in the summer and fall. According to its website, the NCDOT will award the project to the lowest bidder. The bidder, which is a private contractor, is then required to complete the project in accordance with plans and specifications laid out in the original bid.

NCDOT staff then administer the contract and check in on the project to ensure it is completed correctly and efficiently. According to the NCDOT, the resident engineer on the project also keeps the project environment protected, manages traffic flow, cooperates with nearby property owners and coordinates the project with state and federal agencies.

Once NCDOT projects are completed, an engineer not involved in the project's construction will verify its completion.

"While I know this delay is disappointing, please know that this decision was made with the best interest of the traveling public in mind, and the end product will be much better than what was originally proposed," said N.C. Secretary of Transportation Eugene A. Conti Jr. in a letter to Sen. Austin Allran about the project delay.