Work continues on widening Interstate 485 in south Mecklenburg, as crews prepare to shift traffic onto new lanes to start work on older pavement.
The roughly $83 million widening project is still on target to be completed by November or December, according to project manager Brady McKenzie with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Drivers in the area will soon see traffic shift onto the newly paved lanes between Johnston Road and N.C. 51, potentially as soon as mid-June but at least by early summer, and then a month later shift onto the new lanes between N.C. 51 and I-77, McKenzie said. That will allow crews to resurface the existing lanes on I-485 and ensure they are even with the new lanes before the entire highway is opened to traffic later this year.
McKenzie expects the traffic shift to occur in the overnight hours to lessen the impact on traffic congestion. Signs will alert drivers to the switch.
McKenzie also expects the Johnston Road flyover to open around the same time as the traffic switch. The flyover will siphon drivers off northbound Johnston Road and dump them onto the inner loop of I-485. Drivers currently have to wait at a light to turn left onto the ramp causing back ups and delays, while the flyover will allow drivers to use the right-hand lane to continue moving up and over Johnston Road to connect with the
The completed I-485 project will include two new lanes in each direction between Interstate 77 and Rea Road, with one of those lanes in each direction eventually transitioning into toll lanes due to air quality standards in south Mecklenburg. The state then plans to extend the toll lanes to Independence Boulevard, possibly starting in 2017.
The overall project aims to lessen traffic on a stretch of highway considered to be one of the most congested in the state by the NCDOT – though state officials have warned the extra lanes will only improve I-485 traffic slightly, from a grade of F to a D, due to the amount of commuters in south Mecklenburg.