$83.3 Million Contract Awarded to Widen Section of I-485 - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

$83.3 Million Contract Awarded to Widen Section of I-485 in South Charlotte

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The N.C. Department of Transportation project to widen I-485 in south Charlotte has taken a big step, with an $83.3 million contract awarded to Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Connecticut as the low bidder. That is about $14 million under what had been estimated.

The project will widen I-485 from four to six lanes over a 9.2-mile stretch between I-77 and Rea Road. This section of I-485 is one of the most congested highways in the state at an average of more than 121,000 vehicles a day. The project will increase roadway capacity and improve travel efficiency for both the interstate and local traffic in the area.

Design work on the project can start as early as October 1, with construction expected to begin in May or June of 2013. The contract calls for the work to be done by early December 2014, with that completion date more than a year earlier than what had been proposed by the other two bidding finalists.

Because of the importance of the project, and current lower construction costs, the Department of Transportation was able to move up the timeline for the start by nearly two years. Governor Bev Perdue had announced in 2011 that this was one of several urban loop projects in the state that had been scheduled for starts between 2014 and 2019, that would begin considerably earlier because of improved construction economic conditions.

The work will add an inside lane within the existing right of way in each direction. It also will put a flyover interchange ramp from U.S. 521 North onto I-485 West so motorists can access the interstate without stopping at a traffic light. An auxiliary lane will be added to the outside shoulder of westbound I-485, six existing interstate bridges will be widened, and existing travel lanes will be resurfaced.

The project is being built using the design-build method. It allows for the design, environmental permitting, utility relocation and construction to take place at the same time, and under one contract. This method reduces overall construction time, helps the department avoid cost inflation, allows the contractor to make innovations that save taxpayers money, lessens environmental impact and helps shorten the travel delays for motorists.

Lane Construction, which also has an office in Charlotte, is already working on two other major area projects, the re-construction of the interchange of I-85 and I-485 in north Charlotte, and the widening of 6.8 miles of I-85 to eight lanes from Mecklenburg County into Cabarrus County.

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