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Charlotte I-485 toll lanes completion faces yet another delay, NCDOT says

In World
May 18, 2024

Completion of the long-anticipated, 17-mile Interstate 485 express lanes project in Charlotte faces yet another delay, state highway officials said Friday.

The state once expected the lanes to open in 2022, but in 2021 announced a two-year delay in the opening, with completion targeted for this year, Charlotte Observer news partner WSOC reported at the time.

“Substantial completion” of the $346 million project is now anticipated for spring or summer 2025, according to a news release by the North Carolina Department of Transportation on Friday.

Delays and more delays

Construction of the I-485 express lanes started in summer 2019, with NCDOT revising and adding work to the project over the years.

Post-pandemic issues including contract workforce shortages and delays in getting construction materials pushed the completion date back, highway officials said Friday.

“Critical progress milestones have passed, causing delays,” NCDOT Division 10 engineer Brett Canipe said in a statement Friday. “The public has been patient for five years, and the Department wants this project finished.”

Canipe said NCDOT staff has worked with the contractor “to develop an updated schedule we are confident will be met.”

What’s left to be done

Remaining work on the project, according to NCDOT, includes:

Shifting all general-purpose lane traffic into its final pattern.

Completing bridge work at Johnston Road, Weddington Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Laying the final asphalt surface to the travel lanes.

Installing tolling equipment.

Once the project is finished, drivers can choose to use an express lane in each direction between Interstate 77 (exit 67) in Charlotte and U.S. 74 (exit 51) in Matthews for what NCDOT says will be more reliable travel time.

What the project also includes

NCDOT also is adding a general purpose lane in each direction of I-485 between Rea Road and Providence Road.

Crews also are widening the Ballantyne Commons Parkway bridge over I-485 in Charlotte, improving the John Street interchange in Matthews and building an interchange at Weddington Road in Matthews.

The state will own, operate and maintain the express lanes, while the North Carolina Turnpike Authority will handle toll collection, account management and customer service.

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