Some interstate road improvements in Statesville may take longer to complete than expected.
That’s because the ranking for some components included in the second phase of the Interstates 40/77 interchange improvements, including replacement of the Broad Street Bridge, have again been bumped down on the state’s transportation priorities list. That will potentially delay completion of the much heralded project.
The move was tentatively approved at the March 18 meeting of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization.
The new list still has to go through several steps to get into the State Transportation Improvement Plan, including a public hearing by June. But the lower score for the Statesville project concerned Statesville Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Johnson, a voting member of the planning organization.
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“I would remind our members that all of the improvements at the Statesville interchange are a safety issue that desperately needs to be addressed,” Johnson said at the meeting.
The change in the ranking was the result of a motion by Charlotte City Councilwoman Vi Lyles. She successfully lobbied to have the ranking of improvements to Lakeview Road between Highways 21 and N.C. 115 in Charlotte moved up while Interstate 77 and Interstate 40 improvements in Statesville were lowered.
Both Johnson and Troutman Mayor Elbert Richardson voted against the change, along with delegates from Huntersville and Mooresville.
Many of the projects on the list are slated to receive bonus allocation funds, a onetime pot of money estimated at $144.5 million, and being made available by the state to local jurisdictions which adjoin the I-77 toll lane project. Statesville had anticipated receiving $28 million for the interchange corridor improvements.
This isn’t the first time the Statesville project has hit a roadblock. Last year, funding for the project was cut because the I-77 corridor had reached its state funding cap under legislation adopted in 2014.
The I40/I77 improvement project was unveiled with much fanfare back in 2007 by the state Department of Transportation.
Because of the size of the project, it was divided into two phases. In the initial $89-million phase under construction by Zachry Construction Co. of San Antonio, Texas, a westbound “collector lane” is being added on I-40 to facilitate traffic exiting to and entering from I-77.
In addition, significant improvements are being made to all of the ramps at I-77, as well as the U.S. 64 bridge, the U.S. 21 interchange and the Radio Road bridge on I-40.
The second phase will include flyover lanes to carry exiting traffic, as well as the widening of both I-40 and I-77 to eight lanes each through the intersection area.
The I-40/I-77 interchange is a major junction between the third and 22nd longest interstates in the country. It handles over 120,000 vehicles daily, including a significant amount of tractor trailer trucks. The daily traffic count is expected to surpass 200,000 vehicles by the year 2030.
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.