RALEIGH - Gov. Bev Perdue this morning announced that the new I-85 North bridge over the Yadkin River near Salisbury will open to traffic for the first time early Saturday morning. The new bridge will improve safety, and help drivers travel between Charlotte and the Triad more efficiently.
"This new bridge is part of a more than $200 million investment we've made to widen I-85 and replace the aging bridges over the Yadkin River," said Gov. Perdue. "By upgrading this heavily traveled part of our state's transportation system, we'll make it easier for people to access jobs and education, help businesses get their goods to market sooner and attract new companies to North Carolina."
Construction started on the new I-85 North bridge in February 2011. At its peak, more than 200 people worked 24-hours a day, six to seven days a week to complete the new bridge on time. Crews finished building the 0.5-mile bridge in roughly 14 months, an impressive accomplishment by construction industry standards.
The new bridge features four lanes - twice as many as the old I-85 North bridge. The additional lanes will significantly improve traffic flow through the area. The new bridge also has a 12-foot-wide shoulder on each side to improve safety. The old bridge has virtually no shoulders. When an accident occurs, traffic backs up for miles on I-85, making it difficult for emergency crews to help those in need.
The old I-85 North bridge was built in 1955 and no longer meets the needs of today's traveling public. Replacing it with a new bridge built to modern design standards will extend the life of the state's transportation network for decades to come.
The new I-85 North bridge is part of the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project, North Carolina's number-one mobility project.
• The first phase of the project includes widening 3.3 miles of I-85 to eight lanes from north of Long Ferry Road (Exit 81) in Rowan County to just north of the N.C. 150 interchange in Davidson County, reconstructing the N.C. 150 interchange and replacing eight bridges, including the Yadkin River bridges.
• The second phase of the project extends the widening work 3.8 miles to just north of I-85 Business in Davidson County and reconstructs the I-85 interchange at Belmont Road.
The project is scheduled to be complete in May 2013.
The funding for project came, in part, from Gov. Perdue's Mobility Fund. She proposed its creation as a way to generate the money needed to pay for critical transportation projects of regional or statewide significance. The I-85 Corridor Improvement Project is the first project to receive money from the Mobility Fund.