NCDOT plans to widen I-85 through Gaston County; local residents not onboard with idea
“I think they should leave it alone, it’s bad enough now,” one local resident said.
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The state is looking to widen a crucial stretch of I-85 through Gaston County from three to four lanes in each direction.
The project will cost well-over $600 million and will take years to complete once construction starts.
People living in Gaston County say the evening rush hour - between 3:30 and 6:30 - is one of the worse timeframes to travel in that area, often delaying people by an hour.
“Through 6:30, it is just stop and go, and it’s going to be stop and go,” Matthew Hannah of Belmont said.
There is a plan in place by the NCDOT to help the gridlock, but everyone is not onboard.
“Horrendous, absolutely horrendous,” Anthony Trivett said when asked about the traffic problems.
The DOT wants to widen 10 miles of the interstate, spanning from Exit 17 in Gastonia to Exit 27 in Mount Holly, widening the road from six to eight lanes total.
“I don’t see a problem with widening it, it’s only going to help the flow and growth that’s coming into this area,” Hannah said.
Other people living and working in the area are not big fans of the road getting wider.
“I think they should leave it alone, it’s bad enough now,” Kim Smith said.
Some believe it would make traffic worse and could make Gaston County look more like Charlotte.
“I hate driving in Charlotte just because it’s four lanes, because it’s so hectic,” Casey Toney of Mount Holly said.
“It’s still going to be congested, why is one lane going to make a difference,” Colleen Newton added.
People alright with the highway expanding to four lanes in each direction believe it should come with special modifications to help the traffic, especially regarding a wall that causes crashes near the Belmont exit.
“Fix that corner and the hill in the process, that way it doesn’t cause problems like it still does,” Hannah said.
Trivett is concerned the project will not finish on time, and construction will make traffic worse.
“The problem is everybody logjam at the exit, so traffic backs up onto the interstate anyway, so you’re going to have stopped traffic for people trying to get off on the exit,” he said. “I doubt they’ll be done by the time they say they’ll be done, period, it’s not going to help anything.”
According to the DOT, the project is projected to start in 2024 and be completed by 2030.
People with questions and comments about this project can do so online through Sept. 23.
Related: NCDOT holding public meetings on I-85 widening in Gaston County
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