Accidents becoming commonplace in Crawleigh construction zone

The tighter lanes have led to a few accidents since barriers were put into place along the travel lanes.
March 28, 2014 2:54:45 AM PDT
As the Crawleigh project ramps up around Raleigh, so are the number of accidents.

This is only the beginning of what drivers can expect to see for the next three years. Things are only going to get worse.

One of the latest changes in the past couple of weeks is the concrete barriers in the area. The lanes were set with those barriers in place two weeks ago, and the tighter lanes have led to a few accidents since then.

The accidents and tight conditions have prompted the DOT to make a video to help drivers navigate the new roadway.

? Click here to see the DOT's video. ?

The new barriers can cause new problems because motorists can't pull off the road. The ABC11 I-Team asked the DOT about it and we were told it was never a question. Those barriers were always going to go up for safety.

"They're more for the protection of those who have to work on the other side of the barrier and to keep the motorists from going into the work zone and have an adverse affect that way," said DOT Engineer Chad Hinnant.

The push for worker safety has come at a cost -- a slower commute and more accidents. In the four days since the since the barriers were installed, there have been three accidents. One of them was serious.

Still the DOT says the accidents weren't caused by the barriers or the construction, but by the drivers themselves.

"The barriers are outside the lane. If someone hit a barrier, they didn't stay in the lane," said DOT Spokesperson Steve Abbott. "[There's] a lot of merging going on."

Abbott said whatever problems drivers are having now stand to get a lot worse this fall when the bulk of the work begins on Interstate 40.

The DOT has been trying to prepare people for that for more than a year. Their goal is to get 30,000 cars off the road during rush hour.

"At the DOT, we're looking at flex schedules, telecommuting, things such as that," said Abbott. "[We are] also pushing other state agencies to join that effort, downtown companies, Research Triangle Park companies."

However, habits are slow to change. Abbott said despite their public outreach they are still expecting a lot of confusion and congestion when stage two of Crawleigh kicks in.

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