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NC DOT says outerbelt’s last leg will open by July 20

Construction continues on Interstate 485 near Prosperity Church Road in this August 2014 file photo. The DOT said it expects the last segment of Charlotte’s outerbelt to open by July 20.
Construction continues on Interstate 485 near Prosperity Church Road in this August 2014 file photo. The DOT said it expects the last segment of Charlotte’s outerbelt to open by July 20. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

The N.C. Department of Transportation said it expects the last segment of the outerbelt to open by July 20, the date of completion on the contract with Blythe Construction.

The state had hoped to open the 5.7-mile Interstate 485 segment in December, but the project wasn’t finished.

The state said the contractor is still pouring concrete on areas of the highway near Prosperity Church Road and also installing signs and other finishes.

The segment of highway in northeast Charlotte runs from N.C. 115 to Interstate 85. The interchange at I-85 is finished and has been inspected, the state said.

“The concrete paving contractor was a little bit optimistic,” said Scott Cole, a deputy division engineer with the N.C. DOT. “There have been some weather issues. Our completion date is July 20. We don’t have the means to push at this point.”

Cole said Blythe had built a concrete plant in the median of the highway that’s under construction. As the highway nears completion, the plant has been disassembled. That means concrete for the eight-lane highway must be driven longer distances to the site, Cole said.

The Transportation Department said $131 million has been paid on the $139.5 million contract. If the road isn’t open by July 20, the state can fine the contractor $20,000 a day.

When the segment opens, Charlotte’s 67-mile outerbelt will be complete, more than 25 years after construction started in south Charlotte.

In December, the Transportation Department finished a project that widened the oldest section of I-485, from Interstate 77 to Rea Road. The contractor, Lane Construction, is now laying a final level of asphalt.

Harrison: 704-358-5160

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