Dr. Traffic

Blue Line Extension construction ramps up

Construction of the new Blue Line last summer in NoDa near 36th and North Davidson streets.
Construction of the new Blue Line last summer in NoDa near 36th and North Davidson streets. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

We all need to get around. Let’s help one another.

That’s what the Dr. Traffic column is about. It’s questions and answers. And it’s tidbits to help you. So write to me if you have a question or something to share. I’ll go first:

One of the big projects changing life on the roads is Charlotte’s $1.16 billion Lynx Blue Line Extension project.

Ten roads are closed along the planned 9.3-mile route from uptown to the UNC Charlotte. Two more are scheduled to shut down this month near North Tryon Street in the University City area.

▪ University Executive Park Drive is scheduled to close around July 24, probably until early September.

▪ Just to the south, Clark Boulevard will be blocked around July 27 for about a month.

These work areas are between W.T. Harris and University City boulevards. For those who use that stretch of bustling North Tryon Street, we know you’re cringing. Crews are widening the thoroughfare to make a place for tracks in the center median.

Motorists can expect temporary lane closings to continue on North Tryon in the University area between Old Concord Road and UNC Charlotte for the next several months, said Hillary Ryan, a spokeswoman for Charlotte Area Transit System.

It’s what people talk about if they live or work in the construction zone.

“Some of them don’t want to come out in the middle of the day. It kind of gets bad from 3:30 to 6:30,” said R.G. Pettis, owner of Gold Hill Pavilion, at North Tryon and Clark.

But the project reaches beyond University City. There are five long-term street closures among the 10 roads already barricaded:

▪ East Eighth and Ninth streets in uptown will remain closed until November between College and Brevard streets.

▪ East 36th Street in NoDa is out of use for about two years at the railroad crossing just north of North Davidson Street.

▪ Eastway Drive is closed “into summer” at the railway bridge near Sugar Creek Road.

▪ Old Concord Road is blocked for an unspecified time between North Tryon and Orr Road.

The construction schedule is aggressive, Ryan said. There’s a lot to do to stay on course for an opening in August 2017.

“Construction is really ramping up,” she said.

Early phases of the project in 2013 involved moving utilities. Now we’re seeing large-scale change.

Ten bridges are under construction and one more is being modified at Eastway Drive. Three parking decks are going up, including one at the Sugar Creek Station. That station had been slated for a parking lot in earlier versions of the construction plan. Work also has started for a parking lot at the Old Concord Road station.

With all that, there will be some inconvenience.

“Construction has the four Ds – dirt, dust, debris, delay,” said Linda Durrett of the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms

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