New Interstate 85 bridge opens to traffic today
The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — Motorists will be using the new Interstate 85 South bridge over the Yadkin River in time for the weekend.
N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announced that the new bridge will be open to traffic late Friday. Tata made the announcement from the bridge deck on Thursday.
"We're proud to bring the citizens of this region what they've wanted for many years - a modern bridge that can easily accommodate the 60,000 vehicles that travel through the area each day," Tata said. "By improving critical interstate commerce routes like I-85, we can better meet Gov. Pat McCrory's vision to leverage our transportation assets to stimulate economic growth and create and maintain jobs."
Workers will begin moving traffic onto the new I-85 South bridge, starting around 10 p.m. Friday. By 6 a.m. Saturday, all four lanes of the bridge will be open.
Crews have begun tearing down the old bridge. It was built in 1955, had four lanes and no shoulders. The demolition is expected to be complete by April.
The new bridges have four lanes in each direction and shoulders for broken down vehicles. Only two lanes are currently open, but once I-85 is widened to four lanes in each direction in the spring, all lanes on the bridges will be opened as well.
The new I-85 South and North bridges are officially known as the Yadkin River Veterans Memorial Bridge.
The construction of the bridges is part of the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project. Phase one of the project involves widening 3.3 miles of I-85 from just north of Exit 81 to just north of N.C. 150, reconstructing the N.C. 150 interchange and replacing eight bridges, including the Yadkin River Bridge. Substantial completion is set for April 15.
Phase two of the project extends the widening 3.8 miles from just north of N.C. 150 to just north of the I-85 Business split and includes reconstructing the Belmont Road interchange. It's scheduled for completion in late summer.
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