The DOT says the highway is 30 years old, and workers need to dig down at least two feet to remove and replace concrete and asphalt on the road, shoulders and ramps.
Contractors will replace the pavement on I-40 between west of the Jones Franklin Road overpass and the exit for I-440/U.S. 64, and on I-440 between I-40/U.S. 64 and just north of U.S. 264 (Knightdale Bypass).
The project will also add extra travel lanes between ramps in each direction on I-40/U.S. 64 between U.S. 1/64 (Exit 293) and Lake Wheeler Road (Exit 297), as well as an extra westbound lane on I-40/U.S. 64 between the ramps at Rock Quarry Road (Exit 300) and the I-40/US 64/I-440 interchange (Exit 301).
In addition, 14 bridges on I-40 and I-440 will be rehabilitated.
The work is expected to take three years and will mean narrowing I-40 to two lanes day and night. That could turn the already overcrowded highway into a parking lot.
To try and get out ahead of the problem, the DOT says it hopes to reduce the number of cars using the highway by about 30,000 a day by getting out the word that drivers should avoid the area.
It's even hired a public relations person and launched a contest to name the project to raise awareness. It announced this week that the name finalists are Carmuda Triangle, Crawleigh, Southern Discomfort, and the South-Wake Remake.
"I think it's better to laugh than cry, but really, we're using this to get the word out. We need people to start thinking now. We have until spring and summer to get people thinking about their alternate routes, and we want them to think about it now," said Leah Friedman with the DOT.