Western Boulevard closures are the latest step in the Raleigh Beltline project

Western Boulevard will be closed in both directions overnight at the Beltline for much of the next few weeks as contractors demolish the bridge that once carried eastbound Interstate 440 over the road.

The demolition is the latest step in the rebuilding of a four-mile stretch of the Beltline now in its fifth year. The project includes the widening of the road from four to six lanes and the redesign and reconstruction of four interchanges — at Western, Wade Avenue, Hillsborough Street and Jones Franklin Road.

Contractors will close Western late at night — no later than midnight but possibly earlier — and are expected to reopen it by 5 a.m. In between, they’ll gradually dismantle a highway bridge that has crossed Western Boulevard for decades.

The work will take place Sundays through Fridays, weather permitting, and should be completed by mid March, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Drivers on Western who reach the interchange will be detoured onto the Beltline to the nearest exit — Melbourne Road for eastbound drivers and Hillsborough Street for those headed west — and then directed back on the Beltline to Western.

When work began in the fall of 2019, NCDOT thought the Beltline project would be finished by June 2023. Now the department expects it will be completed by the end of this year.

NCDOT and its contractors have cited several reasons for the delays, including difficulty acquiring right-of-way and moving utilities and challenges finding enough workers and getting materials when they’ve been needed.

The completed Beltline will include new traffic patterns at the interchanges. Changes have taken place in stages, most dramatically at the busy Wade Avenue interchange and at Western, which became the Triangle’s first diverging diamond in late 2021.

The design involves crisscrossing traffic at either end of the underpass under the highway in a way that eliminates potentially dangerous left turns and the amount of time drivers spend sitting at red lights. Though it won’t change, the pattern has been enforced with temporary construction barrels and barriers that will eventually be replaced with permanent structures.