Fortify Friday

Massive ‘Badger Breaker’ to Demolish I-40 in Fortify Work Zone

Photo of a Badger Breaker breaking pavement to recycle and reuse on the Fortify project.

 You may have noticed that lane shifts are now in place on I-40 between Lake Wheeler Road and U.S. 1. Raleigh crews are demolishing and removing the deteriorating roadway as part of the Fortify Rebuild I-40/I-440 project.

Curious how this is being done? With a Badger Breaker.

The 23-ton machine uses up to 12 hammers – each weighing 1,000 to 1,200 pounds – to break up the crumbling pavement. We’re not kidding. Here’s a video of the Badger Breaker in action.

“The machine turns the monolithic concrete slab into smaller more manageable-sized rocks that can be processed further to create a stabilized subgrade,” said Amir Nezarati, a senior assistant resident engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Granite Construction crews will then take the broken-up roadway, recycle it and use it in new asphalt that will be used to repave the 8.5-mile stretch of I-40.

A chemical reaction in the 30-year-old substructure of the roadway was causing it to crumble, and in turn, damaging the road surface. That required constant repairs and led to concerns about ongoing travel disruptions along one of the state’s busiest stretches of highway.

The chemical reaction is stopped during the recycling process, allowing the asphalt to be reused.

Work on I-40 is expected to be complete in late 2016.

Project Update

By the end of the month, two milestones will be reached, weather permitting.

Work on the 3-mile section of I-440 will be completely finished, with permanent lane markings and snow-plowable lane markers installed.

With the work wrapping up on I-440, the closed ramp lane on I-495/U.S. 64/264 West to I-440 East is also in the process of being re-opened. This will be a big relief for drivers who take this route in the morning as it will help prevent traffic from backing up on I-495/U.S. 64/264.

Wrapping up I-440 allows crews to shift their focus to the work being done on the 8.5-mile section of I-40. There will be more lane shifts coming over the next month between Lake Wheeler Road and the I-40/440 split, starting on the I-40 eastbound side. With these shifts also comes lane reductions, meaning areas where there are four and five traffic lanes will be reduced to three lanes.

The lane shifts and reductions are expected to be in place on I-40 East by late August, with I-40 West to follow. Once these are in place, average travel times are expected to increase by as much as 30 minutes in both the morning and afternoon commutes.

NCDOT urges drivers to “know before you go” and be proactive in planning their commutes. Options include leaving for work earlier or later or taking another route.

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