I-485 interchange to open this week

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - After repeated delays, the new I-485 interchange is set to open this week.  It's a year and a half behind schedule.  But now, construction officials say it's ready for travel.

"The sooner they can open it, the better," said one driver.

There were no cars along the new stretch of I-485 Sunday, but if all goes according to plan, it could be open in matter of days.

Stephanie Kluever lives near the Harris Boulevard exit and says she's tired of the congestion.

"Backed up usually half a mile or more, that could divert some of the traffic once the new I-485 is open," said Kluever.

The 5-and-a-half mile stretch would connect Highway 16, across Interstate 77 to Old Statesville Road.

It was supposed to open in May of 2007, but construction crews say weather trouble slowed them down.

The contractor behind the project told WBTV he's just as frustrated as motorists about the delayed opening.

"We don't see any reason why it should not open to traffic this week, we believe that it could've opened to traffic late last week, but the decision is not ours," said Mark Hubbard, spokesperson for Skanksa Civil U.S.A.

The decision is up to the Department of Transportation. Earlier this month DOT officials said they were in the process of putting up traffic lights, and once that was complete, the highway should be ready. Melvin Carton says he's looking forward to a smoother morning commute.

"For the surrounding neighborhoods, I know it will help out,"said Carton.

DOT has put up stop signs at the exits to speed up the opening. They still need to finish traffic signals, but they have an inspection scheduled for Tuesday, and if all goes well, it should be ready for travel this week.