Two months after construction began on the Interstate 485 widening project in south Charlotte, Department of Transportation workers are making progress, although commuters won’t benefit for another year.Work began in mid-April with the strengthening of the shoulders on I-485 between I-77 and Johnston Road, which will help redirect traffic during the project.The $83 million project will add a lane on each side of I-485 between Rea Road and I-77, increasing the highway from four to six lanes.A flyover bridge will also be built, which will allow drivers traveling on Johnston Road to merge onto I-485 northbound with no stoplight.“It’s going to be very good for people who work in the office park,” said Charlotte City Councilman Warren Cooksey, a Republican whose District 7 includes the site of the road project.An auxiliary lane will be added, too, and will carry drivers from Johnston Road to Highway 51.There is also a proposed North Community House bridge over I-485.The bridge, which would cross over I-485 between Johnston and Rea roads, would include bicycle lanes, two motorist lanes and sidewalks in both directions.The bridge would connect the north side of North Community House Road with the existing North Community House Road in Ballantyne.Bissell Development has offered to pay for the bridge through a tax increment financing plan. The city of Charlotte would then refund Bissell using tax value increases that may come to the area as a result of the bridge. Dennis Cloud, resident engineer with N.C. DOT, said the bridge is in the design-and-pricing phase. “The bridge as planned will offer a friendlier and safer alternative for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Clifton Coble, president of Bissell Development.The flyover bridge is expected to open by June 15, 2014, said Cloud.The entire project is expected to be completed by December 4, 2014. Several south Charlotte drivers said that while they’re looking forward to the road improvements, they intend to avoid Johnston Road and I-485 as much as possible in the interim. “I avoid it. Gives me the heebies,” wrote Linnea Armstrong in a tweet.Greg Paroff, who splits his time living in Santa Fe, N.M., and south Charlotte, said the improvements have been needed. Paroff, who works at the Carolina Renaissance Festival in the fall, recalled how when he headed home from Huntersville, “it would take just as long to go the last two miles of that trip than the rest of the trip.”“That might be a little hyperbole but it feels like that,” he said. Cloud encouraged residents to be patient during the construction because of its long-term benefits.“It’s kind of rough right now,” he said. “Any time you want to make improvements of this nature, there are going to be some inconveniences. But it will be worth it.”
Friday, Jun. 14, 2013
I-485 widening churns along
Project overview: • Cost: $83.3 million. • Length: 9.2 miles, between I-77 and Rea Road. • Company overseeing the project: Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Conn. • Completion date: December 2014.
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