$100 million from federal government will help make widening I-85 possible in Gaston County

NCDOT officials are hoping the improvements will help to ‘accommodate future growth’ in the area.
Changes are headed for I-85 in Gaston County as the highway is expected to see an additional 40,000-50,000 more vehicles.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 7:39 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - The process of widening Interstate 85 through part of Gaston County is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Biden administration awarded the project a $100 million federal grant to complete the project.

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is excited about this money from the federal government.

It comes as people are growing frustrated daily with their commute on I-85.

NCDOT said that the part of I-85 through Gaston County sees 131,000 vehicles each day.

“It’s a busy stretch, especially early in the morning,” Rose Webb said.

“Something needs to happen,” Patricia Stevens added. “It’s just traffic all the time.”

Changes are headed for I-85 as the highway is expected to see an additional 40,000-50,000 more vehicles, which is expected to bring the daily average between 171,000 and 183,000 by 2045, according to the NCDOT.

“The overall idea is to try to accommodate future growth, there’s some growth in businesses, there’s also an expected boom in population in that area,” Marcus Thompson, the Communications Officer for NCDOT, said.

The project will widen I-85 from six to eight lanes between the Mount Holly exit and the US-321 exit.

“It’s a lot of traffic accidents because people are stopping, and if there’s more lanes we’ve got more room to travel,” Webb said.

Drivers said the biggest headache is driving into Gaston County from Charlotte between 3-6 p.m.

“It was horrible coming home from work, I quit a job in Huntersville because of that,” Stevens said.

The project will cost over $600 million and will add overpasses, multi-use paths, and will improve interchanges in Gaston County.

“It’s the best thing that can happen, I think,” Stevens said.

It’s not just about widening the road in Gaston County, the state plans to make I-85 safer by fixing some curves, improving acceleration lanes, and installing electric vehicles chargers.

NCDOT tells me this project is scheduled to start in 2024 and is expected be completed by 2030.

Related: State to receive $100 million grant to make improvements to I-85 in Cleveland, Gaston counties