Raleigh, North Carolina — Several of the largest road construction projects in Wake County are behind schedule.
WRAL Investigates sought contracts from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for 31 ongoing road construction projects in Wake County. Five of the largest are behind schedule, including three that are delayed for more than a year, in part due to supply and labor shortages.
“Our goal as a construction industry is to build very good projects to the required specifications and on or before schedule,” said Victor Barbour, director of the Highway Heavy division of the General Contractors Association. from Carolina.
The state fined contractor Lane Construction $280,000 for a 28-hour delay in opening the new Western Boulevard Diverging Diamond Interchange in November.
Barbour said contractors across the state were struggling to find the labor needed to complete the work.
“I know very few, if any, entrepreneurs who aren’t hiring people right now if they can find them,” Barbour said.
Delayed road construction projects
Raleigh resident Millie Shyllon has lived along Athens Drive and Interstate 440 since 1977. She described what it was like when construction crews began tearing down the Athens Drive bridge over the highway.
“My house was shaking like it was going to open, and the noise was extremely terrible,” Shyllon said.
Shyllon acknowledged that construction will take time, but said it has been complicated.
“What can you do?” she says. “I’m not complaining, but at the same time everything is at a standstill.”
Construction near Shyllon’s house is far from the only overdue project.
The widening of I-40 between the city of Raleigh and the city of Clayton was scheduled to be completed in June. Its revised completion date is now August 2024.
The widening of the Cary City Beltline in Raleigh is being pushed back from late July 2023 to October 2024.
The I-540 expansion project is also behind schedule. It was scheduled to end in October for part of the new freeway connecting Holly Springs to US 401. It was delayed to May 2024.
The I-540 extension from US 401 to I-40 is a year behind schedule, with construction expected to be completed in November 2024.
“Any time there is a project delay, there will be associated cost increases,” NCDOT spokesman Aaron Moody said. “The bigger a project and the longer the delays, the bigger the cost increases will be.”
Like other industries across the country, Moody’s said the transportation industry is being impacted by labor shortages.
“With the unprecedented labor and material challenges we are seeing, contractors are taking action to maintain project delivery schedules,” Moody said. “Some operations may experience lower production rates, but contractors compensated for this by shifting resources where possible.”
The NCDOT told WRAL Investigates that contractors move resources so they can get things done. However, with all of these major projects happening at the same time, staffing shortages are pushing those timelines back.
“The challenge for us is getting enough manpower, equipment and materials to complete this project on time,” Barbour said.
Barbour said the state has been doing outreach to community colleges and high schools to find construction workers.
“I joke with people that the way it is, plumbers and electricians will earn more than doctors or lawyers because there will be fewer of them,” Barbour said.