Part of widened I-85 to open this weekend

Drivers who have dealt with congested traffic on Interstate 85 in Cabarrus County are about to get their wish – more lanes.

The N.C. Department of Transportation said it will begin opening the widened segment of I-85 this weekend.

The $125.2 million project added two lanes, stretching 7 miles in each direction, from Bruton Smith Boulevard (Exit 49) to north of N.C. 73 (Exit 55).

Weather permitting, crews will open the two additional lanes on northbound I-85 at 9 p.m. Friday. The opening will be done in phases, until 6 a.m. Saturday. Then the new southbound lanes will be opened from 9 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday.

When that happens, motorists will have four travel lanes in each direction from Exit 49 to Exit 55.

DOT said some work remains on about a mile stretch of interstate north of Exit 55.

Jen Thompson, a DOT spokeswoman, said motorists will still encounter intermittent lane closures at night for a few weeks so crews can finish putting permanent lane markings on the road.

“Because of the ongoing work on I-85, the speed limit will remain 55 miles an hour,” Thompson said.

The widening is part of a larger project, which includes the completion of Interstate 485 and a turbine interchange at I-85 and I-485, both due for completion by December.

New interchanges are also being built on I-85 at Poplar Tent Road and N.C. 73. Those projects are to be finished by September, DOT said.

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