LUMBERTON — Reconstruction on one of Lumberton’s busiest overpasses is getting a $3.3 million boost from Congress.
U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre announced on Monday that $3,341,000 in federal funds have been approved for reconstruction of the interchange located at Exit 22 in Lumberton, the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 301.
According to Joe Bailey, the state Department of Transportation’s resident engineer in Lumberton, the price of the project is $12.6 million.
Crews will be “available” to start work on Aug. 27, Bailey said. He estimated construction would be complete by November 2014.
Construction will begin with building a second overpass beside the existing one. Tackling one bridge at a time will allow traffic to continue without interruption, Bailey said.
At least one of the bridges will remain open during construction, but traffic on the interstate may be closed during nighttime hours, Bailey said.
“We’ll detour traffic up the ramp, then back down the ramp,” he said. “This will be done late at night, so the interstate itself will be detoured along the ramps.”
Bailey said traffic on the interstate could be closed until noon on some days, and that there will be no flagging operations on Fayetteville Road except at night.
A diverging diamond interchange is planned for the exit, Bailey said. In that design, traffic crisscrosses over the interstate, eliminating the need for risky left-hand turns when exiting onto or off of I-95 .
Chuck Miller, district engineer for DOT, said the reconstruction will help fix a “capacity issue.”
“It will make it wider and it will be able to handle more traffic,” he said. “There are times where traffic bottlenecks on that bridge. It’ll basically make the traffic flow a lot better.”
Vehicles approaching the highway from Fayetteville Road will be diverted to the left side of the road at a stop light. This allows cars uninterrupted access to the highway, which can reduce clogging by as much as 60 percent, according to an article in Popular Science magazine.
Through-traffic, meanwhile, will continue on the left side of the road until it reaches a second stoplight, where it switches back over to the right. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that the diverging diamond configuration enables 600 left turns onto the freeway per hour per lane, which is double that of an ordinary interchange.
Bailey said traffic will flow easier and faster through the intersection.
The diverging diamond interchange was listed by Popular Science as one of the top innovations for engineering during 2009. The first diverging diamond interchange in the United States was built in Springfield, Mo., in 2010. Popularized in France and throughout Europe, one is currently under construction in Charlotte at Interstate 485 and Mallard Creek Road. The intersection in Springfield saw a 50 percent decrease in accidents during the first six months after the construction.
Bailey said the design for Exit 22 also calls for pedestrian walkways along the sides of the interchange.