NCDOT: Most Construction Halting for Memorial Day Weekend

RALEIGH – This holiday weekend is the unofficial start to summer, and many people will kick it off with a road trip. 

AAA predicts nearly 1.2 million North Carolinians will travel at least 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, which is a 7.2% increase over 2021.

With that in mind, the N.C. Department of Transportation will be shutting down major construction that could affect travelers because of lane closures along interstates, U.S. and key N.C. routes from this Friday morning until next Tuesday night.

There are some exceptions where construction conditions do not allow for the opening of all lanes. That includes projects where highways are being rebuilt or widened, or where a new bridge may be going into place. Construction work that does not impact the travel lanes can take place over the extended weekend.

Updates on construction projects and incidents such as a crash that can affect a trip can be found 24 hours a day by going to DriveNC.gov

Whether they are in a work zone or not, drivers are urged to pay extra attention and be cautious when traveling. Make sure all vehicle occupants are wearing seat belts, obey speed limit restrictions, and never drive impaired.

The Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies have already started their Memorial Day Weekend Click It or Ticket campaign in all 100 counties. There will be checkpoints at various locations around the state through June 5 looking for vehicle occupants without seat belts, impaired drivers, and other violations.

Here are some additional tips for a safer holiday weekend:

  • If you are leaving the state, plan ahead by checking on possible face covering rules or other restrictions that may be in place on the way to your destination.
  • Leave early to get a head start and remember that Friday and Monday will likely have the most traffic on the roads. 
  • Avoid distracted driving and pay extra attention to the road and vehicles that are nearby.
  • Check ahead for any potential weather issues for the route you are using.

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media

News Release Date: May 26, 2022

Contact: Lauren Haviland
(919) 707-2677

Foothills Area Groups to Receive Bike Helmets Through NCDOT

A child wearing a helmet rides a red bike down a sidewalk.

Several groups within Foothills Regional Commission’s four-county region are among those that will receive lifesaving bicycle helmets through the NC Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT’s) Bicycle Helmet Initiative, the department announced in a May 19 news release.

The initiative is part of ongoing efforts to reduce bicycle injuries and deaths in North Carolina. A record number of children across the state—19,900 in all—will get a new bike helmet this year. A full list of the recipients is available here.

NCDOT uses funds from the sale of “Share the Road” specialty license plates​ to purchase bike helmets that are distributed at local safety events for underprivileged children by government and non-government agencies. A record 256 organizations will receive helmets this year. Helmets will be shipped by the end of May.

Helmets save lives. While less than half of all children typically wear a helmet while biking, they can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by nearly 90%.  

Residents dedicated to bicycle safety in North Carolina have supported this initiative since it began in 2007. Since then, thousands of bicycle helmets have been distributed to children throughout the state.

For more information about the program, visit the NCDOT Bicycle Helmet Initiative webpage. ​

News Release: NCDOT Has Developed Early Flood-Warning System for Roads

Agency also readies supplies, preps employees ahead of the hurricane season

A stream gauge over the Neuse River on N.C. 42 in Johnston County
This stream gauge over the Neuse River on N.C. 42 in Johnston County is one of several the NCDOT will rely on to gather data for a new early food-warning system. Learn the components of a gauge in this short video.

RALEIGH – When the next hurricane strikes, the N.C. Department of Transportation will be armed with an advanced flood-warning system that relies on a network of 400 river and stream gauges.

The new system will allow the NCDOT for the first time to analyze, map and communicate in real-time any flood risks to roads, bridges and culverts. 

This critical information will go to NCDOT maintenance staff responding to flooded roads and washed-out culverts; and it will benefit local emergency management officials and the public accessing the department’s DriveNC.gov website for timely weather-related closures.

“This state-of-the-art warning system our department has created will help us be better prepared for the next major storm,” Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said. “Even though we’ve had some quiet hurricane seasons recently, we cannot let our guard down.”

The last major storm to impact the state’s road network was Hurricane Florence in 2018. Researchers at N.C. State University and the National Hurricane Center are predicting an above-average hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.

Armada of flood gauges

After Florence, the state Legislature gave the NCDOT a $2 million grant to develop sophisticated software and install more flood gauges. The system, however, mostly taps into existing gauges operated by other agencies, such as the N.C. Emergency Management and the U.S. Geological Survey. The system includes an interactive online dashboard and flood mapping based on three-dimensional ground surveys. 

One part of the new early flood-warning system covers almost 3,000 miles of state-maintained roads, mostly east of Interstate 95. The system also will allow NCDOT to monitor flood conditions for some 15,000 bridges and culverts statewide. The agency’s Hydraulics Unit has been fine-tuning the system and training staff on it with smaller storms over the past year. 

In addition, the NCDOT has formed a recent partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Renaissance Computing Institute and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence to receive forecast modeling data on how storm surge may affect the state’s road network in coastal areas.

Maintenance crews ready

The NCDOT has been preparing for the hurricane season in other ways. The agency has been reviewing procedures and conducting exercises internally and with partner agencies.

Some highway divisions with coastal counties held employee training events this spring to review response and recovery operations. All of the agency’s 14 highway divisions also have been taking inventory of supplies, doing maintenance on chainsaws and other equipment, and readying emergency on-call contracts that will supplement what NCDOT employees do in responding to a storm. 

Public preparations

State transportation officials remind people now is the time to prepare supplies for the possibility of an extended power outage, restricted traveling, or the need to be at a shelter. The N.C. Emergency Management maintains a comprehensive list of items to include in an emergency supply kit.

After the storm has passed, people should remember to never drive through flooded waters or around barricades. It only takes one foot of water to sweep a vehicle away. For more preparation tips, including evacuation routes and evacuation zones by coastal county, visit ReadyNC.org and also watch this short video on how to prepare for severe weather.

Released: May 23, 2022

Contact: Andrew Barksdale, acbarksdale@ncdot.gov, 919-707-2662