Russian influence on I-77 near uptown? Any Muscovite would know this backward letter

Is Russia influencing Interstate 77 near uptown Charlotte?

Anyone from Moscow or Volgograd would recognize the white backward “N” in the word “ONLY” that’s painted on the highway asphalt directing northbound I-77 drivers to I-277, John Belk Freeway and Wilkinson Boulevard.

The letter in Russian is pronounced “ee” “as in free, meet,” according to MasterRussian.com. The Russian alphabet grew out of the Cyrillic alphabet that was formalized by the Greek monk Saint Cyril, according to the site.

Cyril was born in Thessalonica in the year 827, the Catholic News Agency reports. To some frustrated I-77 drivers, that was the year work started on the still-under-construction I-77 toll lanes from Mooresville to Charlotte.

As for the misspelled letter:

“Turns out, it was just an honest mistake by the contractor,” Jamie Kritzer, assistant director communications for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said in an email to the Observer on Friday.

“The contractor will fix the word when they shut down the lanes on I-77 to perform their regularly scheduled work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday,” Kritzer said.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.