Charlotte freeways will be better lit at night under a $30.8 million state contract to upgrade roadway light fixtures across the state.
The N.C. Department of Transportation said the contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and J. Brady Contracting Inc. will upgrade 10,600 fixtures at more than 350 locations statewide. About 3,300 of the new lights will go up in the Charlotte area.
Non-working lights on interstates are a perennial problem for local drivers.
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Interstate 77 from north of John Belk Freeway to south of Brookshire Boulevard is among the areas where most lights aren’t working, the Observer reported in April. DOT said then that it would spend $51,000 to fix lights at some Charlotte interchanges that are outside active construction zones this summer.
Under the new contract, Charlotte will likely see more lighting improvements than any other part of the state, DOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson said.
Lights to be upgraded include those on the I-77 corridor, on Interstate 85 through Mecklenburg County and portions of Interstate 277. Improvement on heavily-traveled Interstate 485 include its northern end, between I-77 and I-85, and west of I-77 and Rea Road on the southern end.
Construction under the statewide contract is scheduled to start in September and be finished by November 2018. Improved lighting will be installed along interstate highways including I-77, I-85, I-95 and I-40. Freeways in the Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville areas will also see upgrades.
In Charlotte, DOT hasn’t decided when or where work will begin, Thompson said. Five construction projects that are underway in the region will complicate matters, but Thompson said new lights might be installed while those projects are being built.
Those projects include: the I-485 express lanes; the Independence Boulevard widening (expected to be completed this fall); the added lanes to I-77; widening of I-85 in Cabarrus and Rowan counties; and I-85/ U.S. 321 improvements in Gaston County.
“When we get closer to knowing the contractor’s schedule for these areas, we’ll have to coordinate lane closures with our construction staff to minimize impacts to motorists,” Thompson said.
Statewide, lighting fixtures will be switched to longer-lasting and lower-maintenance LED lights. The state expects to save more than $56 million in reduced costs for electricity and maintenance over 15 years.
More than 12,000 building lights, such as those at rest stops and weigh stations, will also be replaced. A new lighting and control system will support the maintenance of the lights and is expected to also save energy.