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NCDOT Employees May Face Repercussions Over I-40 Job

Fri November 17, 2006 - Southeast Edition
CEG



RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Some North Carolina Department of Transportation employees involved in the shoddy paving of a stretch of Interstate 40 will be fired, demoted or suspended, the agency said Nov. 13.

Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said in a statement that an investigation into the paving project “revealed that a number of state DOT employees were at fault.” The I-40 stretch between U.S. 15-501 in Chapel Hill and N.C. 147 in Research Triangle Park is crumbling just a few years after it was paved.

The agency also reached an agreement with the federal government and the project’s contractor to share the $18.6 million repair bill for the stretch of highway between U.S. 15-501 in Chapel Hill and N.C. 147 in Research Triangle Park.

“It is important that people travel on safe roads and the department’s top priority is to make sure this stretch of I-40 is properly repaired,” Tippett said.

Granite Construction Co., of Watsonville, Calif., has agreed to pay $3 million for repairs, while the federal government will pay about $14.4 million.

I-40 was constructed in Durham County in the 1980s. Workers completed an improvement project in 2004 that added a lane in each direction and covered the original lanes with a 3-in. (7.6 cm) concrete layer.

But motorists began reporting last year that the pavement was buckling and breaking. Consultants found that the contractor failed to properly cut expansion joints, leaving the road’s top layer vulnerable to changes in weather. Instead of bonding with the layer below, the two layers began to separate.

According to a report prepared by Applied Pavement Technology Inc., an Illinois-based consultant, transportation department engineers failed to tell the project contractor how to properly install the concrete, while inspectors also failed to properly examine the work.

DOT officials have maintained that they had given Granite Construction sufficient oral instructions.