FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Traffic backups are becoming part of the normal daily commute on Interstate 95 as crashes are on the rise in work zones in both Cumberland and Harnett counties.
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there is at least one vehicle accident on the stretch of I-95 between North Carolina Highway 82 and Bud Hawkins Road daily.
“Before the work zone even started, before we did any widening, we were seeing less than that,” Andrew Barksdale with NCDOT said.
For the first six months of 2022, there were 41 crashes reported on that stretch of I-95. In 2021, there were a total of 109 accidents. That’s up from the total of 50 in 2020.
“The problem people are having is they are speeding and not paying attention,” Barksdale said. “That’s what really the primary reason behind the crashes is.”
Currently, road crews are widening I-95 from four lanes to eight lanes, which could take another four years to complete, officials said. On that stretch of I-95 traffic moves fast, despite orange barrels, construction crews and even concrete barriers on the outside of each lane.
“There is no place to pull off if the car breaks down. It’s fairly dangerous,” Douglas Eldridge said.
He owns Eldridge Tree Service in Dunn.
He worries about his trucks breaking down on the interstate and the concrete barriers not giving him room to pull over.
“Truthfully, I try to avoid the interstate with my trucks if I can,” Eldridge said.
At least two crashes have shut down a portion of the interstate near Fayetteville since the start of August.
The speed limit is 60 miles per hour during the day for these work zones. The speed limit reduces to 55 at night, when lanes are closed for construction.
NCDOT told CBS 17 it is working with the North Carolina Highway Patrol to get more troopers to patrol the area.