FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The drive through the Interstate 95 work zone between Fayetteville and Dunn is driving at least one viewer crazy.
Russell Honeycutt reached out to CBS 17’s traffic anchor Laura Smith about the lack of law enforcement officers cracking down on drivers speeding, and the difficulty concrete barriers lining the interstate make for drivers to pull off the road.
“I travel the section of I-95 between Dunn and Fayetteville every day. This is a big construction zone that has had many accidents since construction started,” Honeycutt said to CBS 17. “The speed limit is 60 but trucks and cars are traveling well over the speed limit. However, you never see any law enforcement. Just a thought, maybe you could help with this?”
CBS 17 took his concerns to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP). According to public information officer Christopher Knox, a trooper is assigned daily to the work zone to deter people from speeding and to reduce response times to incidents.
“We are of the mindset that addressing collision reduction through enforcement is an important component, but not the only factor,” said Knox.
He said throughout the I-95 widening project, NCSHP has maintained continued communication with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) partners and their contract entities.
Construction to widen the interstate to eight lanes between mile markers 65 and 71 started in 2020.
“The question is why are they located where they are? The concrete barriers, there’s two feet of space between the end of the travel lane and the edge of the travel lane,” NCDOT’s spokesperson Andrew Barksdale said. “That two feet of space is needed to give the construction workers space to get their project done more efficiently.”
He said the work zone is set up in accordance with federal traffic guidelines and that concrete barriers need to be there.
“We’re working with our law enforcement partners. The biggest problem we’re having is drivers are going too fast and not paying attention,” said Barksdale.
Barksdale acknowledged this area of I-95 is where more crashes are occurring.
“In the first 10 months of last year through October 31st, we’ve had 86 crashes in this work zone from Exits 65 and 70,” said Barksdale.
For 2021 and yet to date in 2022, the NCSHP said it has cited 2,603 drivers. The majority of the violations are considered “hazardous violations,” which include speeding, reckless driving, following too close, impairment and distractions.
“These are driver behaviors which are overwhelmingly the cause of collisions and these actions within an active work zone can exacerbate the incident,” said Knox.
Here are the collective steps NCSHP said it’s taking to address concerns:
- Reduced the speed limit from 65 mph to 55 mph in the work zone
- Identifying the work zone as a designated “quick clearance” area, this allows for the removal of disabled and wrecked vehicles through a rapid process with the goal of limiting secondary events
- Additional signage has been placed to alert drivers of lane shifts and speed limit changes
- A NCDOT funded “Special Operations Project” is in place allowing for approximately 10-12 additional shifts per month for patrol members to work enforcement duties outside of their normal work shifts
- Partnership formed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and law enforcement agencies across the southeast for Operation Safedrive, which is an enforcement project specific to I-95 and commercial motor vehicle traffic
Knox said, “ultimately, we would hope that drivers reduce their speeds, avoid distractions and increase following distances so that those helping to make our states roadway systems better can do their valued work safely.”
While construction is an inconvenience to all drivers, the NCDOT said once the widening project wraps up along I-95 traffic should flow much better.
Here’s the timeline for the I-95 widening project:
- Construction began in 2020 to widen I-95 between MM 65 and 71.
- Almost half-way done and should wrap up in 2024 and 2025
- The interstate is being widened to four lanes in both directions and being brought up to modern standards
- Construction will soon begin from MM 71 to Exit 81, Raleigh’s I-40/I-95 interchange
“When this is done, the travel lanes are going to be twelve-foot wide instead of 11 and a half,” Barksdale said. “That may not sound like a big deal, but each of the four lanes in each direction will be half a foot wider than it is now.”
If you experience vehicle trouble in the area where concrete barriers are set up, NCSHP said to try making it to a designated pull-off area. If the vehicle becomes disabled and can’t move, then immediately contact *HP so that quick tow procedures can be initiated and a law enforcement response occurs.
“NCDOT has strategically placed these areas within the work zone for emergency situations,” said Knox.
He said disabled drivers should activate emergency flashers if able and do not get out of the vehicle into traffic lanes. The fine for speeding in a work zone is $250 plus the addition of court costs.
Do you have something driving you crazy on the roads and you want CBS 17’s Laura Smith to get you answers? Email her at LSmith@cbs17.com.