"We knew going into it, it was going to be a complicated process," Liam Shannon, an NCDOT Engineer, said. "On a project like this, trying to come up with time frames is all guesswork. Try to make educated guesses and this is a unique project."
When completed, the East End Connector project will directly link the Durham Freeway and Miami Boulevard (U.S. 70), while also providing improved access to I-85 and I-40.
"Relative to constructing I-540 in the middle of the woods, you're impacting neighborhoods but not coming into urban environment than we are here. It's a bit different environment," Shannon explained. "Durham's an old city. It has lots of infrastructure that's old. Water, sewer, communication lines underground. Transmission line, power, all that stuff has to be relocated and trying to coordinate all that to happen at a target date, that's just a challenge you run into."
A DOT spokesman also told ABC11 prolonged periods of rain added to delays, as did juggling schedules with adjacent freight rail lines.
Still, officials maintain delays don't mean any added expenses to taxpayers.
"The contract is the contract and the work is the work," Shannon said, and added that there are mechanisms in place to potentially recoup money if there are unresolved issues with a contractor.
The project, which broke ground in 2015, is now estimated to be completed in 2022.