Legislators Say Taxpayers Shouldn't Be Punished For I-40 Paving Mess

Lawmakers say Triangle-area residents shouldn't have to foot the bill for problems on Interstate 40 that will require 18 million dollars in repairs.

The ten-mile stretch of I-40 between U-S 15-501 in Chapel Hill and N-C 147 in Research Triangle Park was paved during a widening project a few years ago and is already crumbling.

State Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett told legislators yesterday that repair costs usually come out of money set aside for future local road improvements.

But Wake County lawmakers say it's the state and not their region that should have to pay for the job. Tippett blames the shoddy work on contractors, the Federal Highway Administration and unidentified employees within his own department.

Consultants say the contractor failed to properly cut expansion joints, leaving the road's top layer vulnerable to changes in weather.

The department says some employees will be fired, demoted or suspended for the mistake.