ROWAN COUNTY (WBTV) - Late Friday night transportation history was made in North Carolina when workers moved big orange barrels and shifted traffic onto the new I-85 Yadkin River Bridge.
On Thursday transportation officials and Governor Beverly Perdue formally dedicated the new bridge, part of a $200 million bridge replacement and interstate widening project through Rowan and Davidson Counties.
The old bridge, built in 1955, was narrow and had no shoulder. It wasn't really built to hold the traffic volume of 60,000 vehicles per day, and when accidents happened on or near the bridge, traffic would back up for miles. Transportation Secretary Gene Conti and Governor Perdue both pointed out the importance of the bridge not just for central North Carolina, but for commerce along the east coast.
The new bridge is actually two side by side bridges. Both will carry four lanes of traffic and have a twelve foot shoulder on each side.
On Friday night two lanes on the northbound bridge were open to northbound traffic. In July two more lanes will be open on that bridge or southbound traffic. The southbound bridge is still under construction, but the project is set to be complete by May of 2013.
The bridge does carry the name "Veterans Memorial Bridge" as a tribute to those who have served their country in the military.