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I-485: Faster emergency response times expected

Northeast Charlotte residents who find themselves in a crisis can expect better response times from emergency vehicles thanks to the completion of I-485.
Northeast Charlotte residents who find themselves in a crisis can expect better response times from emergency vehicles thanks to the completion of I-485. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Northeast Charlotte residents who find themselves in a crisis can expect better response times from emergency vehicles thanks to the completion of I-485.

Since construction began nearly five years ago on the last section of the loop, heavy congestion has plagued secondary streets. While response times have not worsened, emergency responders hope the completion of 485 will improve those times.

“We always want to get to our public as quick as possible,” said Sgt. Todd Garrett, University City Division of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Eastfield Road, Prosperity Church Road and Mallard Creek Road have borne the bulk of traffic that Garrett said he hopes will shift to 485.

Barry Bagwell, deputy director of operations at Medic, the 911 emergency call service center for Mecklenburg County, said for a paramedic to travel from I-77 to I-85 currently, the fastest route is along W.T. Harris Boulevard and typically takes 13 minutes.

With the opening of I-485, that time drops to 9 minutes.

Bagwell said it’s important to note that response times vary based on the time of day and day of the week.

Bill Suthard, spokesman for Huntersville Fire Department, said the department will cover the inner loop of 485 from I-77 to Prosperity Ridge, while Charlotte Fire Department covers the outer loop on the same roads.

Suthard said the new stretch of road will affect them dramatically, including an increase of calls to the station, but the department is ready.

“Keep in mind we’ve been planning for this,” he said. “We’ve had people retire in the time it’s taken to build this thing.”

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