Charlotte bridge seemed ready to open 1 1/2 years ago. Now it will.

Traffic on Independence Boulevard is congested near Idlewild Road in August 2014 due to road construction.
Traffic on Independence Boulevard is congested near Idlewild Road in August 2014 due to road construction. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The Idlewild Road bridge over Independence Boulevard in east Charlotte is finally set to open late Monday – nearly 1 1/2 years after it seemed ready for cars and trucks.

The N.C. Department of Transportation will shift traffic to the new bridge on Monday night, the third bridge to open as part of Independence Boulevard’s widening from uptown.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article134770179.htmlCharlotte bridge seemed ready to open 1 1/2 years ago. Why hasn’t it?

To safely complete the shift, crews will close the left turn lanes from eastbound Independence Boulevard to the new Idlewild Road ramp from 8 to 11 p.m. Traffic signals also will be moved during the closure.

While the work is underway, drivers will be detoured along Wallace Lane and Monroe Road. When the traffic signals have been moved, one travel lane will open to take cars over the bridge. That will enable the contractor to finish striping Idlewild Road near the new ramp.

The traffic shift should be complete by 5 a.m. Tuesday, state DOT officials said.

Independence Boulevard’s widening is expected to finish this summer, creating an expressway with no traffic signals on Independence Boulevard between uptown and Harris Boulevard.

Independence will have four general purpose lanes in each direction and a bus lane in each direction.

Six-foot sidewalks are being added on both sides of Independence Boulevard, Sharon Amity Road, Idlewild Road and Conference Drive, plus five-foot bicycle lanes on both sides of Sharon Amity, Idlewild and Conference within the project limits.

Why didn’t the Idlewild Road bridge open earlier?

DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Thompson recently cited several reasons:

▪  Devere Construction defaulted on the widening project in late January 2016, delaying work on the overall widening. Lane Construction was later approved as the replacement contractor.

▪  A “fairly significant” amount of grading, storm drain work and paving had to be done in the bridge area.

▪  The city of Charlotte also was doing major water line work at its pump station near Monroe Road during the closure. The work took longer than expected to complete.

▪  Once work resumed under Lane Construction, other parts of the project were more critical to the overall schedule to complete, Thompson said. They included getting traffic on the new Sharon Amity Road bridge and continued widening operations along Independence Boulevard.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak