03/20/09 — I-795 work could cost less, repairs to start soon

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I-795 work could cost less, repairs to start soon

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 20, 2009 1:46 PM

Work to repair Interstate 795's crumbling pavement could be under way soon and could cost "substantially" less than a projected $14 million to $22 million price tag.

The state last October undertook an almost $500,000 "winterization" project to replace cracking pavement in sections of the outside lanes along the 18-mile stretch of road between Goldsboro and Wilson.

The outside lanes were selected since that was where the most severe cracking was found. State Department of Transportation officials were concerned winter weather would worsen the cracking.

Prior to that, the state had patched a section of the southbound lanes just north of Goldsboro.

Pavement problems were noticed on I-795 within the first 16 months of its December 2005 opening.

Meanwhile, the DOT recently completed additional testing in hopes of more exactly determining the cause of the problem and the best approach for repairs.

The tests include the use of a drill to obtain core cylinder samples of the payment to look specifically at areas that display smaller cracks. The load-bearing capacity of the road surface was tested as well.

Ricky Greene Jr., DOT division engineer, said that he expects DOT will be ready to proceed with the project and at a cheaper cost than projected within three weeks.

"I don't think it will approach the amount in the federal report," Greene said. "I hope it will be substantially less than the $22 million. We have been getting some really good prices on transportation projects. Low-bid prices are about 20 percent less than we anticipated."

A Federal Highway Administration report recommends that 2.5 to 3 inches of the road surface be milled down and replaced in both directions. It recommends another 2.5 inches of asphalt on top of that with three inches being preferred.

According to the federal report, the DOT "followed all appropriate procedures in the design of the pavement and that the failure was most likely due to deficiencies in the Hot Mix Asphalt."

It added that crumbling might have been accelerated by large, overweight trucks.

S.T. Wooten Corp. was the company that was responsible for the initial paving and repairs.