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Last segment of I-485 will open June 5

Traffic on Benfield Road over passes continuing construction on I-485. Construction continued on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 on a soon-to-open stretch between N.C. 115 to I-85 and the last portion that will complete the loop around Charlotte.
Traffic on Benfield Road over passes continuing construction on I-485. Construction continued on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 on a soon-to-open stretch between N.C. 115 to I-85 and the last portion that will complete the loop around Charlotte. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

After 27 years of construction, the last piece of Charlotte’s outerbelt will be finished and open for traffic on Friday, June 5, the N.C. Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

That means a motorist can soon drive an entire 67-mile circle around the city. The last 5.7-mile segment will finish Interstate 485, connecting N.C. 11 with Interstate 85.

The state hoped to open the highway in December, but the contractor, Blythe Construction, wasn’t able to finish the work early. The project had to be finished by late July, according to the contract.

27 years in the making

The highway had been planned since the 1970s, and the groundbreaking ceremony on the southern leg took place in 1988, near Pineville. The first section of I-485 opened in 1990 from South Boulevard to N.C. 51. The highway has been built in several phases over the last quarter-century.

Development

I-485 is widely credited with sparking development in Ballantyne in south Charlotte, as well as construction of thousands of homes in Union County. The city is expecting more development along the newest segment, along Prosperity Church Road and Mallard Creek Road. The outerbelt may also fuel development in west Charlotte near the airport.

Large capacity

The latest stretch of I-485 will have four lanes in each direction. That oldest stretch of the highway in south Charlotte was built with two lanes in each direction and was quickly congested. It was widened earlier this year.

A boon for north Mecklenburg

People living in Huntersville and the other north Mecklenburg towns will soon have an easy way to reach much of Charlotte, as well as other points farther, like Greensboro and Raleigh. No longer do they have to travel W.T. Harris Boulevard to reach Concord Mills.

Harrison: 704-358-5160

Then| now

Gas, average price in North Carolina

June 1988May 2015

$1.068 per gallon $2.45 per gallon

Mayor

19882015

Sue MyrickDan Clodfelter

Charlotte population

19852013

estimated at 185,000estimated at 792,862

Best selling cars in U.S.

19882015

Ford F-series pickupToyota Camry

Maria David

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