I-85 widening coming to Cabarrus; matching 8 lanes from Rowan to Mecklenburg

Published: Dec. 5, 2014 at 9:09 PM EST
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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The bottleneck on Interstate 85 that frustrates drivers between Charlotte and Greensboro may finally be getting a fix.  As part of the state's transportation plan, the last remaining four lane stretch of 85 in Cabarrus County is set to be widened.

Clearing that choke point within the next 10 years looks to be a reality.  The transportation plan unveiled on Thursday makes widening 85 in Cabarrus a priority.

It proposes spending $15 billion on road construction, aviation and public transit projects through 2025, including the 85 component.

"I'm pleased that the transportation law and vision, which is based on economic development, safety and congestion instead of politics is working as intended and exceeding our expectations," McCrory said in a statement.

Over half of nearly 1,100 projects on the program list were scored under a new "strategic mobility formula" the legislature approved in 2013.

The formula concentrates more on easing congestion and jump-starting regional economies while also giving weight to the desires of local officials. Other projects making the list largely include bridges, interstate maintenance and projects with contracts that already were expected to go out for bid before next July.

It could ease traffic for an area that drivers who don't even live here are familiar with.

"Charlotte generally backs up north, between Charlotte and Greensboro, that's where we see the heaviest traffic," driver Lars Okeson told WBTV while taking a break on a trip from Virginia to Atlanta.

And if you're a truck driver who comes through here at least twice a week, you really know how bad it can be, especially if there's an accident.

"You have a lot of people rubber neckin' and you have all the lanes blocked up, it's just hard to get about," James Hill told WBTV.

Business leaders in Cabarrus especially for years have complained about how an 8 lane interstate was reduced to four lanes in a county that has so much traffic, now they, and the drivers who are out here everyday, are hoping that relief is in sight.

Being included in the package is not a guarantee that the project will be taken up over the next few years, but transportation officials say it makes it very likely that it will be included.