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Opening of 485 stretch postponed

A section of Interstate 485 in northwest Mecklenburg will likely open in late October instead of late September, but the Alexanderana Road bridge over Interstate 77 near Northlake Mall is still scheduled to open before the start of school.

Virginia Beach-based Skanska said it expects the bridge to open by Aug. 25, giving residents a much-needed east-west route. The bridge will connect Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road with Old Statesville Road, making it easier to reach North Mecklenburg High.

A three-week delay in opening the section of I-485, from N.C. 16 to a massive interchange at I-77 and N.C. 115, is mostly due to rain, said Mark Hubbard, a Skanska spokesman.

“If the ground is muddy, or wet, we can't lay asphalt,” Hubbard said. “We're hoping the thunderstorms stay away from our area.”

Skanska is still laying the shoulders on the main road.

The 5.5-mile section of I-485 has had a tortured history. The $94 million project was supposed to be finished in the spring of 2007, and Skanska and the N.C. Department of Transportation are squabbling over who is to blame for the delay. Skanska has said it couldn't begin work on the road because the DOT hadn't acquired all of the right-of-way and hadn't moved utilities. The DOT has admitted it didn't have the project ready, though it has said Skanska is also at fault.

That will be the last section of I-485 to open for possibly nine or 10 years. Construction on the final leg in northeast Mecklenburg isn't scheduled to begin until 2015.