RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been four years since work started on the Fortify project in Raleigh.
One phase is in the books, and crews are busy putting the finishing touches on an 8.5-mile stretch of Interstate 40. But this weekend, expect some detours if you are traveling around South Raleigh, in particular around South Saunders Street.
The on-ramp to I-40 eastbound at South Saunders is closed this weekend as contractors are getting ready to reopen outside lanes that have been rebuilt. This stretch is right in the heart of the second phase of Fortify.
“Busy, all the time,” says Erica Burton, driver. “There’s always a lot of traffic on South Saunders Street.”
Fortify started in 2013, when contractors worked on a 3.5-mile stretch from Exit 14 of the beltline to the I-40/I-440 split at Exit 301. The second phase, being worked on now, extends another 8.5 miles to I-40 and US 1.
“This is a brand new, eight-and-a-half-mile interstate,” says Steve Abbott, NC DOT Spokesman. “They dug out the road all the way to the dirt and built it up from the top so this is a brand new highway.”
The Department of Transportation is looking to open sections of outside lanes in the next few weeks.
“There will be shoulders now,” says Abbott. “There’s some room to maneuver in case you get in trouble, which there haven’t been for some time.”
Then, the DOT will smooth the road over and plant trees. It is looking to be done with the second phase of Fortify by the fall.
“Oh, I can’t wait,” says Burton. “I can’t wait for 40 to be done, because I drive that every morning on my way to work.”
After that, the DOT will widen the beltline near Wade Avenue in a stretch that right now is down to two lanes. Work on that could start next year.
Fortify is part of a 10-year plan to reduce congestion and enhance mobility through the area.