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Update on Highway Construction

(February 22, 2002) Tawana Brooks and Ron Graham of the North Carolina Department of Transportation gave an update on the two major highway projects currently under construction in Steele Creek.

The widening of sections of Highway 49 (South Tryon Street and York Road) continues from Tyvola Road to the Buster Boyd Bridge at the South Carolina line.

All lanes of the section from Tyvola Road to Arrowood Road are now open, but final markings and other details must be completed.

The section from I-485 to Moss Road had a projected completion date of November 2002, but completion likely will not occur until spring 2003. Needed utility upgrades are the major cause for the delay. The highway was closed for a weekend recently to allow work on the railroad crossing near Steele Creek, but no other road closings during construction are expected.

The section from Moss Road to the Buster Boyd Bridge is the longest section and has a projected completion date of July 2004.

Finally, the new Buster Boyd bridge across Lake Wylie into South Carolina also is behind schedule but should be fully completed and open in late 2002.

The Charlotte Outerbelt (I-485) from I-85 to the Arrowood Road interchange was scheduled to be open by the end of 2003, but the opening more likely will be in spring 2004. Unlike the section around south Charlotte, which has 2 lanes each way and where traffic slows to a crawl during commuting hours, the new section will have 3 lanes each way, which shows that highway planners can learn from their mistakes. I-485 also is under construction around the east side of Charlotte. Motorists should be able to travel the Charlotte Outer Belt from I-85 west of Charlotte around the south side to I-85 on the northeast side of Charlotte by 2004. A lot of traffic that currently passes through Charlotte likely will switch to the Outer Belt and contribute to traffic volumes.

The Steele Creek Road overpass at I-485 should open to traffic in 4 to 6 weeks, but the widening of Steele Creek Road up to Shopton Road will take until mid-summer to complete. Thus the morning and afternoon backups caused by left turns from Steele Creek Road onto Shopton Road will continue for several months until the left turn lane is completed.

The overpass on Sandy Porter Road should be completed in summer, and the detour will be closed.

Attendees asked about the left turn at the top of the ramp from I-485 onto Arrowood Road. The median barrier on Arrowood Road comes out too far and is hard to see in the dark. This interchange was designed to have traffic lights once the other side is open, but the NCDOT staff are aware of the situation there.