Report: Repairs to N.C.’s I-795 Could Cost Approximately $22M

Fri January 23, 2009 - Southeast Edition
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) A new federal highway report released said the state of North Carolina should make extensive repairs to faulty asphalt on Interstate 795 in Wilson County, a fix that could cost as much as $22 million.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that a 68-page report on I-795 from the Federal Highway Administration blames flaws in the pavement itself, citing among the problems separation between pavement layers that should be bonded together as one.

The report says the bad asphalt should be dug out and replaced, and an additional layer of 2.5 or 3 in. (6.3 or 7.6 cm) of asphalt should be added on top. The state Department of Transportation released the report Jan. 8.

DOT started emergency repairs in late 2008 on the most damaged sections of I-795 in northern Wayne County, at a cost of $483,746. The remaining repairs are likely to cost between $14 million and $22 million, the federal report said.

I-795 began cracking up in the spring of 2007, just 16 months after traffic started rolling on the 18-mi. (29 km) freeway. The asphalt was supposed to be good for 15 years.

When state DOT officials were designing the freeway in 2003, local DOT engineers in Wilson warned them that that the pavement would be too thin, with just 5.2 in. (13 cm) of asphalt, and too weak to support cars and trucks. Many interstate highways have as much as 15 in. (38 cm) of pavement.

But the federal report says I-795 was designed properly.

“The design thickness used in 2005 met NCDOT and industry pavement standards and should have performed to expectations,’’ the report said.

Initial traffic on the freeway has been light, but some overweight trucks have been detected. The federal report says a few overweight trucks may have contributed to the pavement failure.

DOT officials were not immediately available for comment about their repair plans, and about where they would get the money for the job.

In 2007, the state Department of Transportation spent $22 million to rip out 10 mi. (16 km) of bad concrete on Interstate 40 in Durham County. DOT’s pavement problems on I-40 in Durham County were blamed on a faulty design by DOT engineers, incomplete instructions to the paving contractor and poor oversight of the construction project.

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