University City

Roadwork on I-85 ramps to Mallard Creek Road to continue through October

Residents and businesses on Mallard Creek Church Road near Interstate 85 northbound say they’re prepared to grin and bear the temporary roadwork that will help reduce traffic congestion in the area.

The N.C. Department of Transportation project to widen both ramps from I-85 north onto Mallard Creek began Sept. 17, work that officials hope to have completed before the Oct. 25 project deadline.

Crews with contractor Lane Construction will work between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays to widen the ramps and add right-turn lanes for motorists leaving I-85 northbound for Mallard Creek in both directions: toward Tryon Street (U.S. 29) and toward Prosperity Church Road.

NCDOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson said the project also includes widening and extending concrete islands on Mallard Creek Church Road “to make movements safer.”

Crews will do most of the work in off-peak traffic times, not during rush hour, she said.

“There won’t be a time when they’ll completely close the ramps. They will still be operational, but they may be narrowed,” she said.

Crews also have the flexibility to work at night and on weekends, she said, as long as they get approval from the DOT project manager.

Because neither ramp will ever be entirely closed, Thompson said, no official detour will be laid out.

But with good weather, officials hope the project will be complete even before Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church’s annual barbecue, scheduled for Oct. 24.

Local business owner Donnie Oehler, also a member of the Mallard Creek Community Organization, said the all-day event typically draws between 10,000 and 12,000 attendees. While the ongoing roadwork will affect area residents’ daily lives, they can be patient, Oehler said, provided barbecue traffic isn’t impeded.

“We’ve just got to live with it. … but if they close (ramps) down (Oct. 24), we’ll be hurting.”

If the project isn’t finished by then, Thompson said, the department will consider the resulting traffic implications.

“We’re very familiar with that event. We deploy signs on Mallard Creek every year to advise motorists (of barbecue traffic),” Thompson said. “We’re keeping in mind race events that are coming up, too.”

The Bank of America 500 is scheduled for Oct. 12 at nearby Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“With any large traffic-generating event, we don’t want to create a great impact or bigger backlog,” Thompson said.

Janelle Goodrich, University City Partners project manager, said the organization is working to keep residents and businesses informed about the road project, as well as temporary construction closures related to the Lynx light-rail extension.

“It’s the price we all pay for progress: We will be inconvenienced with some orange barrels,” she said.

Goodrich said plenty of alternate routes around University City give motorists options to bypass the ramp work.

“The big rushes into the research park will be all right,” Goodrich said.

“Most of the people, as far as main rush-hour impact, this won’t affect them. They’ll be at work by 9 a.m.”

But Thompson reminded motorists to remain alert until the nearly $160,000 ramp-widening project is complete.

“There will be some things that are not normally there: heavy equipment and more folks on the ground,” she said.