Politics & Government

One of Charlotte's busiest highways to get smoother surface, better markings

The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to resurface Interstate 77 from Tyvola Road to Morehead Street in uptown.
The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to resurface Interstate 77 from Tyvola Road to Morehead Street in uptown. dfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Interstate 77 in south Charlotte will soon be resurfaced, and the N.C. Department of Transportation also plans to improve pavement markings and painted lane lines.

The DOT recently awarded a $12.8 million contract to improve five miles of I-77 from Tyvola Road to Morehead Street. Last year, the state resurfaced and improved I-77 from the South Carolina state line to Tyvola Road. Work could start as early as June 25, and it's expected to be finished by September 2019.

I-77 carries 166,000 vehicles a day south of uptown. The busiest section of I-77 is north of uptown at LaSalle Street, where 181,000 vehicles pass daily.

The project also includes improvements to the I-77 northbound and southbound bridges at West Boulevard, and the off-ramp bridge exiting I-77 south to West Boulevard.

The state will paint the bridges and a new concrete deck for a smoother ride on all three bridges.

The contract does not include new lighting for the highway, which is often dark due to burned-out or broken lights.

The $647 million Interstate 77 toll lane project is scheduled to open by the end of the year. It will add two toll lanes in each direction from uptown to Exit 28 in Cornelius and on to Exit 36. The project has faced ongoing controversy.

Jen Thompson, a spokesperson for the DOT, said the state is working to install new LED lights on many roadways, including I-77. The Charlotte area has roughly 3,300 light fixtures, and the DOT is about halfway through improving those lights. That lighting contract is scheduled to be finished in November.

Eventually, the DOT plans to completely rebuild I-77 from uptown to the S.C. state line. By 2024, the DOT wants to start construction on adding two toll lanes in each direction on I-77, which would tie in with express toll lanes plans for I-77 north and I-485 in south Charlotte.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs
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